Journal Posts

Tag: investigation

Season 1, Episode 11 - Love Bites

It was after dark in Collinsport, and the Slayer and her friends were on patrol in St. Catherine's Field, one of the city's larger cemeteries. Seamus had some concerns over Astrid's recent performance in the field, and was using this opportunity to critique her to speak. At any rate, Ben, Blaze, Chloe, Robert, and Cory Jennings had all tagged along. Rumors were that a large nest of vampires had taken up residence somewhere nearby. In between the banter, the group noticed that the old rectory near the east side of the cemetery seemed like it would be the perfect place for a group of vamps to hole up.

Astrid approached the two-story house quietly, clambering up the side and through an upstairs window. It had been boarded up, but the Slayer was able to wrench the boards aside with a minimum of noise. Ben and Blaze took up positions near the front door, while Seamus and Cory stood back. Robert and Chloe crept around the back, and the young male witch used a little spell to pry the boards loose over one window in silence as Chloe Collins sent one of her drones flying up and around to get a good look at the place.

As it turned out, the place was far from empty. Astrid moved through an upstairs room to a landing overlooking the main room below. There were seven vamps there, mostly young women, all led by a blonde who looked like she had stepped out of an episode of a 90s sitcom about a bunch of friends. There were also four bodies on the floor, but all were beginning to stir. Freshly-made vamps, without a doubt. Using the clever little sub-vocal communicator Chloe had whipped up for them in her workshop, she let the group know what she'd seen, and then leaped down and straight into action. A flying kick, a quick stake, and one vamp was dust.

Ben and Blaze were through the front door and into the midst of the vamps in a hot second. Blaze's twin composite blades cut down one of the newbie vamps, while Ben's axe took the head of a second, leaving twin piles of dust on the floor. But the rest were on them just as quick, fangs bared, punches flying, and hands grabbing as they tried to weigh them down with numbers. Astrid went at their fashion victim leader, exchanging a flurry of blows and kicks with the vamp.

Chloe circled around, using her drones to blind a few of the vamps while launching arrows from her composite bow. Cory shifted into his werewolf form, and charged in, claws tearing. The remaining vamps broke and fled, and Cory launched Blaze out the window after one! Ben chased down another, and both of the football players dusted their vamps. The leader meanwhile had tipped over a candelabra and set the place ablaze, jumping out a window on the far side. Astrid leaped through the flames, tumbled out the window after her, and pursued the blonde vamp into the cemetery. As the blonde hefted a tombstone to smash Astrid, Robert tweaked her hands with a little hex, and the heavy stone crashed down on her head. It was almost anticlimactic when Astrid drove a stake through her heart.

But things had been a the dust-up. And Ben and Blaze were fairly dismissive of Astrid as they left. Seamus was annoyed with her, but that was just Seamus. Cory left without saying much of a word, and Robert was kind of short too. Chole seemed just fine towards Astrid, though. Maybe it was just a guy thing?

The next day at school, it seemed like there was definitely something going on. People were cold or even downright rude to Astrid. Josie blew her off on the way to class, and Maryanne ignored her completely. Meanwhile, Jason Stoddard had arrived at school, and the gang could see a whole gaggle of girls talking to - and outright flirting with - the Collins's cousin. It got worse. During first period, Ms. Darcy had Jason move to the front of the class and stuck Astrid in back - right next to Laura Collins. Some of Laura's little gang of mean girls did everything shy of pick a fight with the Slayer, only to have Laura put them back in line. Apparently she had enough cold contempt for Astrid normally, that whatever was affecting everyone else had no hold on her.

It all reached a boil at lunch. Not only did Ben try to pour milk all over Astrid, but Blaze decided to yell "food fight!" Literally everyone targeted the Slayer, pelting her with meatloaf medley and noodle surprise. She ran out, straight to the library, and locked the door. Seamus went from disappointed at her shoddy reflexes to realizing that it should simply be impossible for everyone to hit the Slayer with public school food.

Astrid cleaned up as Robert made his way to the library after lunch. He was well, and decided to look into the matter. Although he was somewhat contemptuous of Astrid's plight at first, he did some research and cast a few divination spells. Something was really, really wrong. He and Seamus dismissed the idea of a curse, and this definitely wasn't a blanket spell affecting the school. Something had literally re-written reality, making Astrid a sinkhole of negative energy. The same thing had happened to Jason, only in reverse - he was a literal girl magnet. Only one thing could alter reality this way - a wish. But genies had certain tells, and no demon lords or demi-gods were about. This could be only one thing.

A vengeance demon.

Robert was able to brew up sort of a magic Prozac in his cookies, and by the time Blaze, Ben, and Cory joined them, he had them all cooked up. Their feelings for Astrid normalized (more or less) and it seemed something in Chloe's cybernetic architecture made her immune to this subtle reality alteration. But this was all temporary stopgap. The situation was bound to get worse. They had to figure out what had happened, and who was responsible, and put an end to it before things turned really ugly.

Astrid sneaked out the back of the school after hours, and the rest of the gang went back to their homes (or in Blaze's case, Collinwood) to get a night's rest. Unfortunately for Astrid, things had gone from her dad avoiding her when he got home, to him packing up her stuff and leaving out brochures for a military academy! She left out one of Robert's cookies for him, and things were smoothed over, at least for now.

The next day at school was even worse. Astrid was greeted with cold silence and murderous stares from everyone. They saw that Jason was greeted with awed whispers and longing looks from some, jealousy from others. But that all changed when he snagged his pants on his locker door and they tore, revealing just a little too much skin. With a chorus of shouts, nearly all of the girls and a few boys started chasing after him, hungry for more. The gang realized he would likely be torn apart by the mob, and while Blaze and Ben ran interference, Robert distracted most of the crazed teens. They got him to the library, and figured out what to do next. Robert had spoken with him the day before, and managed to work out that he'd talked to a cute sort-of-goth-in-a-nerdy-way girl named (he thought) Carla at the shop, and inadvertently made a wish. It had to do with rejection for Astrid and love for him, but it had all gone horribly wrong, as was the case with most vengeance demons and their wishes.

With very little else to go on, Astrid, Ben, and Blaze decided to head to the comic shop. Robert and Seamus did some research, and found a ritual to summon a vengeance demon named Vincarla. With a few misadventures along the way, including a high-speed pursuit by Collinsport's finest and a few shots being taken, the trio that headed to the local comic shop arrived, sneaked in the back, and managed to give Chloe a remote hook-up to the place's digitial security cameras. A quick review of the footage revealed Jason's mystery gal, and worse yet, Astrid saw she was there!

Without a second to spare, Astrid went to confront her. Even though Astrid caught the vengeance demon with a solid punch, she only smiled, revealed her true face, and teleported away. "Your suffering is only beginning, Slayer!" The trio hightailed it out of there and back to school. A plan had been put together. Robert and Seamus would summon the vengeance demon and try not to get killed as Ben, Blaze, and Astrid tried to get her power center away from her and smash it. Chloe and Cory would run back-up, and keep Jason safe. Based on her cute, sparkly nose-ring with the shiny green stone, they figured this was likely the trinket they needed to smash.

Things hit a snag when Astrid got spotted by the student body, and had to leave in a hurry. She ran off, trolling a crowd of angry students, and made her way into the nearest cemetery. The underground passages and utility tunnels beneath Collinsport actually sounded safer than aboveground right now!

Meanwhile, things went about like expected in the school library. Robert and Seamus managed to summon Vincarla, and Robert nearly had a cerebral hemorrhage keeping her from teleporting out. Blaze and Ben went after her with axe and open hand, and found themselves beat up and thrown around the library, right alongside Seamus. But in the end, Blaze managed to grab her long enough for Ben to rip out her nose ring and Seamus to smash it with his cane. With a flash of green light, a howl from the demon, and a rippling wave re-writing things, reality snapped back to normal. Astrid had encountered a small nest of vamps in a mausoleum, but with one dusted, the rest decided to be elsewhere. All was right in the world.

After all was said and done, Jason apologized to Astrid. He realized that it wasn't about the way he felt - it was about the way they both felt. And in the end, they'd be better off as friends. They both went solo to the Valentine's Day dance at school that night, and watched while eating cake. Blaze and Maryanne had a dance, so did Ben and Vicki Winters. And even the chaperones got in on the action as Cory and Angela Darcy cut a rug. But Astrid and Jason shared a laugh as they realized that they were likely cursed to be alone. And then it kind of hit them that, hey, that was likely the case. A sobering thought. Eh, at least they had cake....
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Season 1, Episode 10 - The Play's the Thing, Part 2
Tuesday night, the gang made their way to their first play practice. Needless to say, it was a bit of a mess. Although Laura Collins had plenty of, uh, volume in her performance, there wasn't much in the way of acting skill on display. Blaze had a great time with his three lines, and more than a few barbs ready for Laura. He did get in a bit of trouble with Ms. Darcy after basically calling her a fat pig, but apologized. And Laura looked (surprisingly) genuinely hurt afterwards. Astrid did take the time to convince Vicki Winters to take Laura's costume by half an inch, though.

Tony the janitor had been keeping an eye on things as well, and had a brief conversation with Astrid about the piece of mail she had received. He said he'd do what he could to get in touch with the Initiative and find out more. He let her know about the rumors he'd heard, something about a big shake-up, something that wasn't good for the Slayer and her bunch.

As rehearsal wound down, Tony saw a figure watching from the door back into the school's halls. A hooded figure. He moved to follow, and ended up chasing the figure into a classroom. It turned out to be a vamp in a hoodie! He quickly let the Slayer and her friends know, and a chase was on. Astrid, Ben, Blaze, and Tony followed the vamp down a storm drain grate into the tunnels beneath Collinsport. Chloe followed their progress with one of her drones, only to have it cut out after the vamp left the sewer. It had exited into an alley, and as the Slayer and her allies saw it start to duck around a corner something flew down from the night sky and snatched it up! A trio of strange lights overhead faded as two more of these strange creatures flew down. They were larger than a man, and had moldering black exoskeletons with a beak-like face, hooked claws, numerous feelers, and bat-like wings, and smelled like rotting corpses. A fierce encounter followed. Blaze and Tony were almost taken up into the air, but Astrid and Ben managed to save them. Astrid's knife and Ben's axe worked the best, while Blaze managed to get in a few shots with Sam & Dean, his custom composite blades. Tony's guns proved almost ineffective - at least until he literally stuck them in one creature's beak and blew its head off.


The creatures' corpses broke down into a stinky, slimy goo. Although Blaze managed to save some fro Chloe, the residue clinging to their clothes left them stinking so bad that Robert refused to let them ride in his car when he picked them up. It was the trunk or nothing. Going by the description, he recognized the creatures as the Byakhee, demonic servants of the Old One known as Hastur. Stuff was getting really weird around Collinsport...

Astrid and Tony made their way on foot, the Slayer and the janitor stopping by a liquor store long enough to get a couple of bottles of whiskey - one to wash off with, one to drink! Well, none for Astrid. She was still underage no matter what her fake i.d. said. In the meantime, Ben made his way home and told his grandfather what had happened. "Strange things are happening in this town boy, and they are only going to get worse." Ben was not comforted.

The rest made their way to Collinwood, where they ran into Chloe's much, much older cousin, Caine. There was some amusement (and nearly some hypothermia) as Charlie Loomis told Blaze he needed to strip down and get hosed off before he could enter the mansion. There was an unfortunate incident where Blaze exited the bathroom through the wrong door after his shower and ran into Laura as she was changing. There was some towel slippage and screams, but it was all good. Of course, Chloe would wonder what really happened between them after Laura said she was getting fat. Chloe also got news that her business venture had run into a snag; something was fouling up the 3D printed parts from her factory, affecting repairs at the cannery. She found out something had thrown off the timing on the big, industrial printers...and she couldn't figure out what. Nor could she figure out what the goo she had been brought actually was. The Old Ones, she determined, were weird and scary.

Wednesday was a bit weirder. Students and faculty members seemed lost at times in the halls of Collinsport High, and some were visibly disturbed. Play rehearsal went better that night, and Blaze's diligence in learning the male lead's lines paid off, as Jayden Morse dropped out, stating the pressure had been getting to him. Astrid and Ben saw some...thing in a hood backstage, but could not find where he, she, or it got off to. Astrid went on patrol that night, but the vamps were laying low. Something was brewing, and Caine Collins hit the bar-with-no-name under the Fisherman's Folly for more information. Lord Ruthven's lackeys let slip he was looking to steal something on Friday, something he had been looking for. He passed that information along to Seamus, who checked the wards on his safe in the school's library office. And then, of all things, Cory Jennings got out of his safe-room on the last night of the full moon, just after Angela Darcy had showed up to drop off his notes on the play! Luckily, Astrid had been in the neighborhood and got the "stray dog" wrangled back into a cage before Ms. Darcy got hurt. Things were quiet at Collinwood...except for Chloe and Caine witnessing a room that should be empty change into one occupied by a flesh-and-blood version of Chloe that was (shudder) on good terms with her sister, Laura! Something was playing fast and loose with the laws of time, space, and reality it seemed. Yup. Chloe really didn't like the Old Ones and how physics went wacky around them.

Thursday was stranger still. Half the classes were cancelled, and half the people normally in school were there. Well, until Chloe did a headcount. Everything came up normal, which made her wonder...were her perceptions off or were people being erased from reality? Ben even found himself looking out on a strange, alien city by a black lake under twin moons, another strange city on the far shore. He blinked, and the vision was gone. The King in Yellow was getting closer. Robert finished preparing his counter-ritual. They would have to cast it during the play, with Blaze being the trigger-man on stage. He, Seamus, and Cory would cast the spell while Astrid, Ben, Caine, Chloe, and Tony stood watch.

Friday came and things seemed calm. Too calm. The day literally flew by, and it was time for the play to start. Time had started breaking down, and things were reaching a breaking point. The play began, the ritual was started, and things were going smoothly. Naturally, it couldn't last...

A silent alarm went off, indicating someone had broken into the library. Chloe had repaired them after the break-in Tuesday night, and she alerted Astrid and Tony who ran to the library. They saw the windows had been forced, the office opened, and there were two piles of ash by the safe. Five vamps were there, including one with long, dark hair wearing Gothic clothes about a century and a half out of date. Astrid's crossbow training paid off as she plugged a vamp in the heart with a bolt, cutting down the odds.

Lord Ruthven was charming, urbane, and sort of terrifying in a fashion victim sort of way.

"How rude," Lord Ruthven commented. He introduced himself, and told the Slayer he had been looking for her. He seemed utterly unruffled - mostly because he had the Jar of Ammut in hand after ripping off the safe's door - and was ready to leave. Astrid and Tony tried to stop him and his cronies. Tony engaged a couple of veteran vampires as Astrid and Lord Ruthven faced off for the first time. It almost turned out to be the last time, as his hypnotic gaze overcame her will. Had she not snapped out of it at the last second, his sharp nails would have sliced her throat open! Their fight spilled into the hall, only to be interrupted when the other vamp landed a slam tackle on Astrid and carried her through a door into the auditorium!

That should have been impossible, as the auditorium was nowhere near the library. But reality had started breaking down. The play was nearing the end of the first act, but as the vamp and the Slayer crashed into the audience (none of whom seemed to notice), the counter-spell went a little...awry. The backdrops seemed to fall away, becoming a real city behind Blaze. A hooded figure in yellow robes was approaching, things writing beneath the mustard-colored folds of cloth. The King in Yellow was here. Caine and Ben leaped on stage to stand with Blaze, who had thought to keep Sam & Dean on his person. Tentacles lashed out from beneath the cloak, and the trio fought with axe, composite blades, and sword cane as Chloe stood to one side, using her drones to blind the crowd (to preserve their sanity) while she peppered the figure with arrows.

"I don't remember this part from rehearsal.."

Both fights reached critical mass. Tony and Astrid managed to dispatch Ruthven's minions, though he left her and the former Initiative commando in a heap. She'd had the measure of him though, and he was formidable to say the least. She had nearly died, and this gave Astrid a lot to think about. Meanwhile, Ben's axe severed a tentacle that seemed to stretch off behind the figure in yellow, much like the hand of a puppeteer. He did that just as the spell went off and Blaze presented the Elder Sign he carried to the King in Yellow. There was a rush, a flash of light, and everything was back to normal. The crowd was applauding. "Best school play I ever saw," Blaze heard someone say, "and those special effects were amazing!"

The Cast took a long weekend to rest. They had managed to save Collinsport - maybe most of the world - from the rise of an Old One! But it came at a cost. Lord Ruthven now had the Jar of Ammut, and was one step closer to fulfilling his plans. Perhaps the time had come to turn the tables and start hunting him...
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Season 1, Episode 9 - Ragnarok and Roll, Part 2
While Astrid, Ben, and Thorgrim limped off to meet with Robert at his place for a bit of medical attention and some magic brownies, Blaze and Chloe headed back to Collinwood so that she could fix her arm. It was close to midnight before they got a call from Cory Jennings - a call for help!

Cory and Seamus Murphey had returned to Collinsport to take a look around, following up on reports of something being hit by a semi on a freeway overpass north of town. That had, naturally enough, been the troll they were looking for. Figuring out that the troll might be hungry and thirsty after sleeping off last night's bender, the pair headed down to the Blue Whale near the docks in Collinsport. While the bar had been quiet at first, the door getting ripped off its hinges by an 8-foot tall, hammer-wielding, green-skinned, horn-headed troll quickly changed the tavern's ambiance. Thinking quickly, Seamus promised the troll that there was plenty to eat and much strong drink at a place nearby. He and Cory led Skorne the troll to an abandoned warehouse down off a fairly quiet pier, while Cory made a quick phone call. As they got to the end of the pier, there was no ale waiting - only barrels of fresh-caught cod.

I was promised beer and a fight! I SEE NO BEER!

Angered by Seamus' attempt to trick him, the troll picked the Watcher up by the neck and began to squeeze. Astrid and the others picked that moment to arrive as Robert's car squealed to a halt just shy of the scene. The Slayer let the troll know that if he wanted a fight, she was more than happy to oblige him. After tossing the Watcher aside, Skorne answered with a blow from his hammer that sent Astrid flying into the barrels of fish.

As Ben yelled to distract the creature, Astrid got up and Cory got inspired. Seeing a nearby forklift, he started the heavy loader up. Astrid provided a distraction by sliding between the troll's legs and treating his, uh, boy parts as a speedbag. Cory slammed the forklift into Skorne, pinning him to the pallet of steel drums full of fish, and pushed the whole lot into the bay. He didn't come back up. Not certain at all that they had gotten rid of the troll, the group nonetheless retired for the night. Astrid wrapped her ribs, which were almost certainly cracked, and got some rest.

Robert's brownies seemed to do the trick. Ben was not so bad off, and Astrid only had a few bruises to show by the next day. The group met at school, ready to do research...and get ready for the big game. Blaze had made the mistake of introducing Thorgrim to energy drinks, and after the big Viking led the school in cheers from the roof, he crashed out for an hour or so in the stadium bleachers. Robert and Seamus turned up information on the wyrm, Haagmandr, and the ritual to raise it. It would take place under the light of the moon, just after it rose, and require a ritual shedding of blood. The troll's blood, it turned out. And Chloe figured out the "new place" Ulf Jakelssen had mentioned was likely a construction site of some sort. The most likely? The new parking garage under construction across from the school's football stadium! Could things be any worse?

As it turned out, yes. Moonrise was at 6:30, just after the big game would start. Ben and Blaze decided to be on the field, but both had gear stashed nearby. The rest began to put a plan together. Chloe used one of her drones to keep an eye on the construction site while Astrid, Thorgrim, Robert, Seamus, and Cory sat in the stands near the exits. As soon as she saw movement in the half-completed structure, she let the rest know and they were off. Ben convinced the coach that the motorcycle accident he'd been in the previous day left him sort of...concussed...and went to get checked out. Well, he planned to after getting his axe and dealing with some undead Vikings, no doubt. Blaze was on the field, but more on that later.

Moving into the open superstructure of the garage, the group saw Ulf, his remaining undead warriors, and the troll all engaged in a ritual. Astrid and Ben rushed forward to disrupt the magic circle, only to have Ulf berate them. "Fools! The wyrm will rise uncontrolled now! I will spill your blood to placate him!" The ground shook and a massive crack opened. Something could be heard stirring far, far below. Seamus and Robert conferred for a second, realizing that if the crevasse was sealed in time, Haagmandr would not rise. But the bad guys had already started to move.

Thorgrim engaged Ulf as Astrid took on the troll. Ben went after one of the undead Viking warriors as another rushed Robert and Seamus, and yet another went after Cory. Ben took his down fast, striking off its head, as the other slashed at the Watcher and the young magician. Chloe hopped in a crane, raising a load of girders to hopefully drop on the troll as Astrid slashed away to little effect, barely dodging the troll's mighty hammer blows. "Foolish little girl," the troll snarled, "as long as my hammer is in hand, my strength is beyond yours!"

That was her cue. Astrid slid between the troll's legs again, once more delivering a low blow hard enough to stagger him as she ripped his magic hammer out of his hands. She laughed, "This hammer is neat! I am sooo going to kick your ass with it!" She pounded Skorne to the ground and dodged aside as Chloe dropped several tons of steel I-beams on him.

Thorgrim had stood bravely against Ulf in the meantime, but the undead warrior proved too much, and he had been run through. Robert dispatched one Viking revenant, teleporting it away to none other than Blaze! He had leaned of Ben's exit, and gone to check up on him on a turnover. Grabbing his gear, he was barely slowed down as he tackled and beheaded the undead Viking. Cory ripped another apart after wolfing out, and ran into aid Astrid. Ben rushed in to face Ulf, denying him a killing blow on Thorgrim. Ben's axe proved a match for the undead Viking's sword, and with two blows, he sent Ulf's head bouncing down the crevasse.

Skorne meanwhile shrugged off several tons of steel, rising battered and bloodied but not done. "Give me back my hammer! I will smash you to paste, girl!" He swung with a steel girder, and as Astrid dodged aside, Seamus made his move. He had hot-wired one of the earth moving bulldozers on site, and rammed it into the troll, sending him and several hundred tons of loose earth and half-completed building into the crevasse, sealing it.

As Thorgrim lay mortally wounded, Ben, Astrid, and Seamus came in close. "Ulf is..slain?" He asked. "Yes," Ben replied. "I took his head off with my axe."

"Good. You have made my vengeance complete." He looked skyward, and the rest could swear they saw shadowed wings in a false dawn overhead. "Freya..." Thorgrim whispered, and he was gone. Valhalla had called. The group made sure the site was clear, and took Thor's body with them. They liberated an old fishing boat, set it alight, and the flames took the Viking warrior's remains.

It was a bittersweet ending, especially since Ben and Blaze sat out the rest of the game. But Ritchie Collins came through, and the home team won! They were on to state!
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Season 1, Episode 8 - Night of the Living Dead Girl
It was a typical Monday night for the Slayer and her friends. Meaning, of course, that they were in a cemetery. It was early November and a mix of rain and snow had fallen earlier, leaving some ice and nasty slush. Which naturally meant the crypts and mausoleums of Collinsport Memorial Gardens cemetery were dank and very cold. Seamus had learned from Caine Collins that some of Lord Ruthven's vampire minions had been searching tombs with variations of the name "Smith" for the last few nights, and the Watcher had astutely tried to figure out what they were after and get ahead of them.

He had learned that one John Allistair Smyth, the so-called "Father of Collinsport," was buried in the cemetery they were now searching. Legend was that he had been buried with a special map showing all the secret and forgotten tunnels created when he had helped design the layout of the city's streets, sewer system, and utility tunnels - which were used for coal in those days, but now contained power, gas, and water lines. It was said that he had also discovered strange things beneath the surface, and had made sure some areas were walled up and forgotten. Whatever Lord Ruthven wanted with this map, it probably wasn't a good thing.

They had just discovered a hidden compartment in Smyth's tomb, and a cunningly crafted puzzle-box within, when half a dozen vampires fell on them. It was a brief but intense fight. Their leader turned out to be tougher than expected, but Astrid dealt with him after taking a few hard punches. Blaze kept two busy while Ben dispatched one, then another. Seamus had been grabbed by one near the tomb's open door, but Chloe put an arrow through his leg and Robert blasted him with a spell that sent the vamp flying. Cory went tooth-and-claw with another, and left nothing but dust in his wake. When the fighting was done, and the vamps were all dusted, they decided to head home for the night.

Blaze, unfortunately, found himself at the bottom of an open grave as he had concentrated more on his complaining that where he was going. It was one of three, all recently dug up by the looks of the empty caskets. There was no sign of vamp activity around the area though, and shovels nearby showed they had been excavated from without rather than within. Great, another mystery...

The next day at school, the gang did some research before classes in the school library. It turned out the graves had belonged to three teenage girls, all cheerleaders from West Bay Academy, who had died in a car crash the week before. They definitely weren't vamps. Barring any further research, they got about their day.

Astrid ran into Josie Evans in the halls, and she had heard rumors about Laura Collins planning a coup on the cheerleading squad. Jolene had been sick a couple of days last week, and was now just getting back to school. She had been pretty tough, and it looked like the end-of-the-year competition was getting to her. Jason Stoddard ran into them both, and invited Astrid - well, her dad really - to dinner at the big house on Wednesday night. His mom had been kind of busy and was playing hard to get or somesuch. Astrid was invited, and Chloe had invited Blaze and Ben. Well, okay, LAURA had invited Ben. Jason also apologized because his older brother, Roger Stoddard, would be there. Blaze and Chloe knew what he meant.

Candace Banks played "guess who" with Blaze, and seemed glad to see him. She inquired about his new motorcycle, and asked when he would be ready for a ride. The girl's double entendres needed work, it seemed. He asked her to dinner at Collinwood the following evening, and she laughed. "Nope! The Collins family isn't all that popular, despite what people might think. I don't know why you hang out there, but I sure won't!" He saw Maryanne Jennings slink by, apparently embarrassed to see him with another girl. Blaze point-blank asked her to go, and she let out a flustered and excited "Yes!"

Ben had meanwhile run into the new girl, Vicki Winters, in the halls again and asked her to class. She went with him, expressing she was not necessarily interested in dinner at Collinwood when he asked. "That place is spooky and has a lot of secrets." When he asked how she knew that, she said she didn't know. But she'd had strange flashes of deja vu all over town. Ben wondered what it all meant - and then asked her out to the Soundbox a few nights later. She gratefully accepted.

Cory met with Angela Darcy around lunchtime, and she apologized for being brusque the other day. "I had a lot on my mind." She declined to elaborate, but he told her was there for her, if not in words, in gesture. Chole, meanwhile, had run into Adrian Lennox in the halls. He apologized again for his hand in the whole crazy-robot thing, and mourned missing the science fair. A senior, Amy West, had won the grand prize this year. She was one of a few brilliant students in the school, though rumor had it she had been quite busy helping Jolene Vander out with some new cheer routines of all things. She and Jolene had been friends growing up. "Apparently she wanted to consult Amy about engineering a better human pyramid or somesuch."

But the day was not to remain quiet as another day, another unexpected death in Collinsport High. A few of the other members of the football team let Blaze and Ben know that Hayden Meyers, the captain of the football team, had been found dead in the locker room after weight training class. He had apparently fallen and bashed his brains out! The group was skeptical, and while Astrid feigned illness, Chloe sent her new drone in via the vents to get a scan of the body. The coroner and the police had already arrived, and things didn't look good. There was surprisingly little blood and brains around for such a horrific accident. It looked more like the foulest of plays. Chloe's analysis later showed the back of Hayden's skull had been crushed, and something scooped out parts of his brain.

Blaze, Ben, and Astrid asked a few questions. Hayden had been going steady with Jolene, and someone had seen them arguing in the hall before he went to weight training and she went to history for the afternoon. She had apparently been disappointed in his performance on the field, and was "reconsidering things." Astrid wasn't able to catch up with Jolene, but did watch her from the sidelines at cheerleading practice. She had a lot of spray-on tan and wore a fashion scarf the whole time. Curiouser and curiouser. Astrid decided she would drop off a consolation tray of Robert's brownies that night after school, to say how sorry she was, and get a closer look. Chloe went home to study her scans, while Seamus and Robert did some more investigation. Ben and Blaze had practice, and Blaze had stuff to do at home later.

So Astrid raced home, got her homework finished, and went by Jolene Vander's place before going on patrol. Jolene answered the door with kind of a cold expression. She was wearing a lot of perfume, and hadn't worked up much of a sweat on the field. She took the brownies, thanked Astrid, and said she wanted to be alone. Astrid had to get a look inside, and sneaked around the outside, climbed up onto Jolene's house, and took a look inside. It was quiet. Too quiet. As she thought of breaking in, a police cruiser went by. Uh-oh. Better to wait and see, and she decided it was time to go on patrol instead.

She and Ben did a patrol of the town on foot, and were getting back in about 1:00 AM or so. It had been quiet, but as they approached the hospital, they heard sirens and gunshots. Racing ahead to see what was going on, they saw half a dozen zombies spilling out of the emergency room and Collinsport's finest being absolutely ineffectual against them. Astrid and Ben rushed in, axe and sword at the ready, and cut them down. Ben managed to barricade a dozen or so more inside a storage room. One of the zombies, as it turned out, had been Hayden Meyers! They tracked the carnage back to the hospital's morgue, and found that Hayden had apparently kicked his way out of the morgue drawer and started the whole thing. The cops turned a blind eye to the armed teens, and took care of the rest of the zombies. Astrid had managed to grab a sample - a couple of fingers that had stuck to Ben's axe - and was going to make sure they got to Chloe and Robert in the morning.

Seamus had been out that night as well with Caine, and learned of an out-of-the-way dive named the Fisherman's Folly. It was a rough place, and the cellar was even rougher. The bar, such as it was, stood in an old sub-basement no doubt connected to the tunnels that ran under Collinsport. The clientele appeared to be non-human, based on the spikes and lumps Seamus saw under their sea coats, cloaks, and the like. The bartender was an eerily thin and gray character with an inhuman smile named Eddie, and he did give them some heads up about a mysterious bell that Lord Ruthven was looking for...and that he was willing to pay top dollar.

The next day at school, Astrid tried looking for Jolene to no avail. The head cheerleader seemed like she was avoiding the Slayer, though Astrid was assured she had come to school. Chloe and Robert ditched class for the chem lab - her computer skill made sure their lack of attendance wasn't noticed - and analyzed the samples that Astrid and Ben brought back. Ben and Blaze kept an eye out for trouble as Seamus did more research into what might cause an outbreak of zombies. Chloe discovered there was some strange chemical animating the tissue, and Robert determined it was alchemical in nature. It would only affect dead flesh, not living tissue, though it if someone died from a bite, they would come back. She even figured out how to brew up a reagent that would neutralize the original chemical...and likely break any zombies down into goo. Handy, if messy. She figured only a few people could have brewed up such a potion, and one was Amy West. Jolene's best friend. And, as Seamus found out through his research, a relative of the mad doctor Herbert West, known for his experiments in reanimating dead tissue. Astrid also warned Laura Collins and her friends to stay away from Jolene's special mid-afternoon practice. "I didn't know you were quite so devious, Astrid." Laura purred. "We'll take a long lunch."

After school, the group decided to pay another visit on Jolene's house. Too many elements pointed at the head cheerleader. They broke into her house and took a look around. It was empty...except for strange sounds coming from the locked cellar door. Opening it, the friends came face to face with a pair of zombies - Jolene's parents - and quickly dispatched them. Seamus said he would look for Jolene's car, which was missing, as the rest had almost forgotten - they had a dinner to get to!

Seamus tracked the car to one of Collinsport's many cemeteries. He found that no one had tampered with the graves, but for some reason the irrigation was running. In November. It was spraying the zombie formula all over the grounds. This was bad. He gathered his gear and went to put a stop to it - well, until he was knocked unconscious by a blow from a shovel. At least his hat took the worst of it.

The rest had assembled at Collinwood in the meantime, and introductions were made. Lee and Carolyn were hitting it off, and made a cute older couple. Her oldest son Roger was a different story. He was handsome, but cocky and more than a bit of a jerk. After trying to embarrass his younger brother, and being put in his place by Astrid and Blaze, he settled down a bit. Ritchie and Laura were on their best behavior, though the would-be head cheerleader kept making moon-eyes at Ben. Even Caine Collins was there, offering some polite small talk, though he didn't dine and had already supped. The rest of the dinner went well, until Charlie Loomis pointed out a car had showed up, along with "a whole lot of folks!" Zombies. More than a hundred. And Jolene and Amy, along with one very unconscious Seamus.

As the young folks rushed everyone else to safety upstairs, making excuses about gangs, Seamus woke up and told Jolene off. Being dead made her more than a little crazy though, enough so that Seamus got the better of her, got away, and reached the safety of the mansion. Chloe had just finished brewing up her reagent, and the group hatched a quick plan. Astrid and Caine Collins would guard the main door, holding off the horde. Ben would escort Charlie to the garden shed to get a sprayer. "Anti-riot stuff," Chloe explained hastily, "I, uh, made it as part of a prank." They seemed to buy it. She would head on to the roof with a small mortar and launch a few shells of the stuff, while Blaze would clear the garage, "borrow" Roger's motorcyle, and he and Cory would ride around and spray down the perimeter.

Against all odds, it worked. Astrid and Caine cut down more than 20 zombies, and kept the barricades up. Ben, Blaze, and Cory cut down almost as many between them, and got the sprayer hooked up and ready to go. Things were a mess afterwards, but the zombies all broke down into goo. No doubt it would be passed off as an attack by a gang of eco-terrorist wannabes protesting the Collins Cannery or some sort of thing. And it was doubtless they who wrecked Roger's bike, crashing it into a tree.

But something else had happened. Jolene had gone around the side of the house, grabbed a ladder, and bashed in an upstairs window. She grabbed her rival - Laura - and spirited her away, knocking out Ritchie, Roger, and David in the process. Carolyn said "she looked like she was crazy - on drugs or something!" No doubt, Astrid explained, this was part of the gang that had been harassing Laura. She had "just said no" to their drugs and craziness, and was on their hit list. David went to call the police, while Astrid and the rest thought about where an insane zombie cheerleader would go - the school!

She and Ben raced there on Blaze's bike as the rest gathered materials and got in the van. The duo crashed through the front doors of the school, and found the halls a mess. They went straight on to the gym, where they discovered a tied up Laura, Jolene, Amy, and about a squad's worth of zombie cheerleaders. The very same girls Jolene invited to her house to "practice" the other day, along with the girls from West Bay Academy. It turned into an all-out brawl, with Astrid going head-to-head with Jolene while Ben took on the zombie cheerleaders.

Jolene yelled about being betrayed by Astrid, about how she'd had to spy on the West Bay squad, and how when they chased her and Amy off, Amy had panicked and caused both cars to wreck. Jolene had broken her neck and died, but Amy brought her back. And now she would do the same to the other girls in the squad. They would never age, never tire, and always be beautiful. Astrid had enough. Although Jolene was inhumanly fast and nearly as strong as she was, Astrid's sword proved a deciding factor as she crippled the zombie head cheerleader. Ben had held his own in the meantime, long enough for the others to arrive. Cory and Blaze helped him dispatch the other zombie cheerleaders as Chloe put an arrow with her zom-b-gone solution into Jolene's head. And that was that.

The school was a mess, and no doubt it was the result of gang activity. Astrid was saddened by Jolene's loss, but it was better this way.

Except for the fact that Laura Collins was now going to be head cheerleader! What horror had she unleashed?
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Season 1, Episode 7 - I Was a Teenage Robot, Part 1
It was a school night, so that meant of course that Astrid, her Watcher Seamus, and her friends were in one of Collinsport's many cemeteries hunting vampires. Seamus had learned from Caine Collins that a gang of vampire bikers, called the Hell Patrol, had blown into town. They didn't seem to be affiliated with the mysterious Lord Ruthven, but they had already raised enough havoc to start drawing unwanted attention. And it looked like they weren't just here for the local clam chowder.

The heroes were surrounded by seven vampire bikers on heavy-duty motorcycles, most of them armed with tire irons, chains, and knives. Astrid went after the leader, but he ducked under her sword slash as he rode past, snaring her neck with his chain and dragging her behind his bike. Blaze and Ben swung at the bikers, Blaze neatly impaling one with his wooden blades as Ben took another's head. Cory leaped at one, landing atop his moving motorcycle as he forced the vamp to crash into a monument nearby. Robert used his magic to gun the throttle on another vamp's bite, causing him to get thrown as his bike slammed into a headstone and broke it. Seamus was shouting instuctions at them, while Chloe waited in Blaze's van, monitoring things with her drones.

The tide turned as Astrid wrapped the chain around a tree, yanking the lead vamp off his bike. She was on him in a second, and after a furious exchange, took his head off. Cory ripped one vamp to shreds as Ben and Blaze dealt with another. The vamps had made a good showing though, and the remaining two were circling around to make a run at the group. As that happened, Chloe saw a figure stumbling through the graveyard. It was Josie Evans!

The girl seemed a bit disoriented, and one of the vamps turned to her and tried to ride her down. Josie leaped into the air, kicked the vampire biker square in the chest, and sent him flying from his motorcycle. As he crashed in a heap, she was on him, raining a flurry of blows on him. She then picked him up, threw him at a tree, and the vamp was impaled on one of the branches, exploding into dust. Astrid had finished off the other after knocking him from his bike and staking him, and in a moment she was at Josie's side.

"Wha...what happened?" Josie stammered. Astrid, Blaze, Ben, and Seamus looked at each other. "Did that guy just crumble to dust? And did they have fangs? What is going on?"

Astrid placed a comforting hand on Josie's shoulder. "Do you know what a Slayer is?"

The next day at school, the heroes had a lot to talk about. They had made sure Josie got home safely, and snuck in late themselves. Astrid had talked with her friend on the way to school, informing her about the history of the Slayers and what it meant to be one. Josie was nervous, more than a little confused, and very excited. They met with Seamus and the others in the library around lunchtime.

It had already been a busy morning. Astrid and Josie ran into Jolene Vander, the head cheerleader, and some of the other girls on the squad. There was a volleyball game in Augusta that night, and the end-of-the-year cheerleading competition was coming up. All of which might just tripped up by Astrid's Slayer duties. Laura Collins was there as well, offering her support for Astrid...which was kind of like having a shark rooting for her to fall into the pool, now that she thought about it.

Ben had a brief run-in with Candace Banks that led to a cigarette break behind the gym. Blaze had grabbed one of the vamps' bikes the previous night, and was fixing it up. Upon hearing that he had a motorcycle she became very interested. Ben met a new girl, a very sweet brunette named Victoria Winters, and helped her find her way to class. Cory ran into Angela Darcy in the hall, but she seemed distracted and claimed to have a headache. This was something he would have to look into later. Seamus had received a book on Irish folklore that had been mistakenly delivered to the school, and called Annabelle Stokes, the proprietor of the Witch's Cauldron, to make sure all future deliveries were made there. He ended up asking her to dinner as well. Robert ran into Gabrielle Trask again, and promised to meet with her later to go over some rituals she was interested in. She seemed to want something...more...but he couldn't put his finger on what it might be.

But the days' events so far were marred by a few, odd things. There were random students being called to the nurse's office every hour or so, and the rumor was going around that they were giving out flu shots. But no one had taken any consent paperwork home, so it seemed unusual at the very least. And after Vice-Principal Boothe had ripped into Blaze after suspecting he had been smoking behind the gym, the angry school official told him to meet him in his office after lunch. But when Blaze got there, Boothe was practically mellow, and simply emphasized in calm, polite tones Blaze's responsibility as a role model. Weird.

But the situation with Josie took precedence. It was unusual for a Slayer to activate past age fifteen, though not unprecedented. But there had been no further activations since Buffy Summers' witchy ally had activated ALL the Slayers a couple of years back. And Josie seemed to be the real deal.

As it turned out, the gang could use the help. Seamus had done some research, and it turned out that tonight was the night when it was foretold that the demon Belphagor would rise from his centuries-long slumber. And of course, he was in Collinsport. A demon-cult had called him up 200 years ago, and offered him blood sacrifices in exchange for good fortune. The Hell Patrol was descended from some of the original cultists - pre-vampirization - and apparently intended to continue their legacy. There was a mausoleum in St. Catherine's cemetery that had been built on the site of the old, demonic temple, and it was there the demon would come back. Since he was due to rise at midnight, things were going to be dicey, but the gang should be able to handle it.

Of course, there was the matter of Astrid's cheerleading duties at an away game, one from which she probably wouldn't make it back in time from. So she did the only thing she could - she quit. Jolene was...not happy. The look she gave Astrid could best be described as "You're dead to me." Laura was sympathetic, said it was probably for the best, and went off with Jolene expressing plenty of ideas she had for the cheer competition routine. Sigh. It was not easy being a Slayer. Josie rushed up to her shortly thereafter, and Astrid let her know that she should stay on the team. That she could have a life outside of being a Slayer. Josie said that was great, but she quit the team herself five minutes ago. How could she let her best friend walk away without supporting her? As she and Astrid walked away, Adrian Lennox approached, stating he had missed his study date for chemistry with his lab partner, Josie, and wanted to speak with her as soon as possible. Josie blew him off, but the look he gave her gave Astrid the creeps. Something was going on with Collinsport High's other resident science genius.

As school wound down, the group took some time to look into the mysterious calls to the nurse's office. Astrid and Blaze snuck into the nurse's office as Ben and Robert ran interference. They found no signs of a flu vaccine anywhere, and instead a small delivery box from CyberTech Solutions, a local computer company that shut down a year or so ago. It was...weird.

With that in mind, the group set about their tasks getting ready for the night. Ben and Blaze went to practice as Robert went to work, Cory cooked dinner for his sister, and Chloe went home to do some studying, and they all got their weapons and gear ready to go. Astrid and Josie got some last minute training in, and got in contact with Caine Collins who she introduced as a "fellow demon hunter." Seamus had his date, and the lamb stew was excellent, and it all went rather well.

They met shortly after 10:00 in the cemetery, waiting for the biker gang to arrive. They set up some wires, spike strips, and other traps, and ambushed the Hell Patrol when they came roaring in. They had a potential sacrifical victim on their leader's bike, a local woman no doubt, and were ready to shed some blood. But the heroes beat them to it. They fell back to the mausoleum as the fight began, drawing the remaining seven or eight vamps in. Astrid got thrown in to the crypt - hard - and some drops of blood hit an ancient design on the floor. Apparently that, combined with the fact that daylight savings time had somehow left things going off an hour early - saw the demon rise in the midst of the chaos. While everyone else helped finish off the rest of the vamps - including Chloe and her longbow - Astrid and Josie faced off against the rampaging demon.

Belphagor was fully eight feet tall, with gray, scaly skin, a bestial muzzle and horns, claws, and stubby wings and a tail. And he was mad at being bound in a circle for the last two centuries. Astrid slashed away with her sword, as Josie took an axe to the demon. But then something happened - something unexpected. Josie was caught off-balance, and the demon slashed at her with a raking talon, cutting her down to the bone across her neck and torso. And the cut revealed a metal endoskeleton, tubing, and wires.

Josie was a robot.

She stumbled back, stunned, as Astrid pulled herself together. The demon roared "You send a toy against me!" He slammed Astrid aside, shot into the air almost impossibly on his stubby wings, and crashed through the leaded glass window atop the mausoleum. He fled, vowing his vengeance. The vamps had been finished off, and the crew had a new mystery to deal with. Astrid and Blaze comforted Josie, and got help from their resident expert in all things science-y, a very visibly shaken Chloe.

They took Josie back to Collinwood, sneaking her into the mansion and up to Chloe's workshop. Josie was understandably confused, wonder who - what - she was. Chloe patched her up, and went down to let Astrid know it was okay to see her. Chloe had noticed that some of the parts inside Josie had come from CyberTech Solutions. And she had learned the company's primary shareholder was one Johnathan Lennox, the father of Adrian Lennox, her primary rival at the yearly science fair. But as Astrid went upstairs she found that Josie was gone, having broken out a high window, dropped to the grounds below, and fled. She and Caine tracked the robot girl down as Robert used a tracking spell to lead the rest after her in the van. Both trails led to the same place - the now-closed CyberTech Solutions plant in Collinsport...
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Season 1, Episode 6 - All Hallow's Evil
It was the day before Halloween, and the Slayer and her friends were in the school library, enjoying a relatively quiet study hall. Things had been a little chaotic, with a few pre-Halloween pranks and shennanigans around the school, but they'd had enough of ghouls and goblins in real-life. Of course, relative was the key word, as Seamus thought it was time for Astrid to get some weapons training in. "You've been neglecting this thanks to your cheerleading...activity." He had put on padding and hefted a staff. "Time to put your skills to the test!" Astrid sighed, quickly disarmed Seamus, and left him sprawled on the floor.

"You seem to be...ah...competent." Blaze laughed, and challenged Astrid to a real work out. She accepted, and the young demon hunter proved to be pretty darn good with a staff, and nearly disarmed her after a hard strike. Astrid smiled, and unloaded on Blaze, leaving him sprawled on his backside as well. The resulting round of laughter was interrputed by a brief "Ah-hem," from behind.

A young woman with dark hair and coffee-colored skin stood there. "Well," she said in a vaguely European-by-way-of-Africa accent, "it seems like you have put my father in his place. Hello Seamus. No greetings for a wayward daughter?" The kids - and Cory - turned in mute shock to Seamus.

"This," he said by way of introductions, "is my daughter, Ashanti. Her mother was an exchange student from Kenya. We were involved some time ago. I thought you were training with that witch doctor...what was his name again?"

"Njenga. And witch doctor is a slightly racist term. He prefers to be called an indigenous caster. You will have to forgive my father," she said to the rest. "He is the product of a colonial system that relentlessly oppressed a native people for decades. But he is learning. And Njenga was having his penthouse in Nairobi renovated. So I came here, to see you."

Excusing themselves from the awkward family renunion, the others left to finish afternoon classes. Vice-Principal Booth caught up with them in the hall. "Just the students I was looking for. It seems that Principal Goodman has decided that some of you should act as volunteer escorts for grade-school children looking to go trick-or-treating tomorrow. Congratulations. I have just volunteered you. Mr. Devlin! Where do you think you're going? I have just the group for you!" Resigned to their fate, the friends decided to go costume shopping after school. It turned out Seamus and Cory weren't exempt, as they were expected to act as chaperones at the school dance being held Saturday night. On the plus side, Angela Darcy was going to be there, and expected Cory to have a costume that went with her Cleopatra outfit.

Astrid went downtown with Maryanne Jennings and Josie Evans, and hit a costume shop near the mall. Blaze and Ben went to the mall with a few of the guys from the football team, while Cory headed in the same general direction. Robert had an outfit lined up from the small stash at the Witch's Cauldron, and Chloe went home to craft something with her 3-D printer. Even Seamus went downtown with Ashanti to get some supplies at the local magic shop, though she was going to stay elsewhere. Astrid had generously suggested she stay with her. Although Lee Raynor was surprised that Seamus had a child, he went along with his daughter's request. Seamus did manage to secure a date with the shop's proprietor, Annabelle Stokes, who wanted to see the last couple of installments of an '80s slasher flick series playing Halloween night at the Night House. Seamus figured it would be an interesting cultural exchange, if noting else, and agreed.

Things looked like they were going to be quiet that Halloween. Of course, that's when things took a turn for the macabre.

Astrid saw a vision of herself fading out in a mirror, her friends replaced by bloodless corpses with their necks torn open.

Cory was stalked by a phantom wolf, one that looked on him with human hate.

Blaze saw himself surrounded by demons in the reflections from store windows, and nearly knifed a woman who was following him. His own reflection became demonic.

Seamus heard a tiny, high-pitched laugh and felt like something small and ominous was bedevilling him.

Ben saw a figure in a parka, it's breath steaming in the night air, watching him intently with inhuman eyes.

Robert was being stalked by the figure of a Puritan in a tall hat, a fiery cross in his hand, but a figure he only saw in reflections.

Chloe saw her father at the end of a shadowed hall, stating he no longer had a daughter but a wind-up doll.

All of these visions were fleeting, and there was no obvious evidence for their reality. But they were disconcerting. Astrid got in touch with everyone, and they promised to go over things later. Some research later on at Seamus's place revealed that this was all likely the result of a supernatural force. A fear demon like Gachnar could be responsible, but a massive summoning circle and some sort of occult battery would be necessary. After an idle comment about his date, he looked at the paper and saw that the not only was the film festival tomorrow being hosted by the movies' director, but some of the actual props were on display. Props that looked disturbingly authentic. A trip to the theater was all it took to reveal they were actual Celtic artifacts, some used in occult rituals. A friendly warning to the Night House's manager and the director were all he could accomplish. These things would have to be kept under watch.

Caine Collins came across Astrid after she had got back home and gone on patrol with Blaze. The local vampires were going to hit the weekend blood delivery at the hospital, and he could definitely use her help in dealing with him. He was charmed to meet Ashanti Murphey, and was equally surprised at the thought of Seamus having sex with anybody.

Caine, Blaze, and Astrid ended up staking out the hospital, only to come across a group of vamps accosting a deliveryman. The vamps proved to be tough, but Astrid and Blaze took down their group while Caine dealt with some on the inside. The deliveryman, a rough character with a winning smile and a bit of an Irish brogue, thanked them and left with a refrigerated container. It wasn't until Caine revealed the delivery never arrived and that the guy they saw wasn't the regular deliveryman, that the Slayer started to realize something wasn't quite right. Astrid's description of the mystery deliveryman to Seamus had put things in a new light. He recognized the man. Gideon Yeats. An occult grifter and sorcerer. No doubt he would be involved in whatever was going on. They would have to keep an eye out.

The next day at school, the group was ready to go. Astrid was dressed as Rapunzel, Blaze as a pirate, Ben a Viking, Robert a mariachi in full Dia de Los Muertos regalia, and Chloe as Tinkerbell. Cory even came in costume, dressed as Marc Antony to Angela's Cleopatra. Seamus eschewed a costume, naturally. They got their kids together - and boy, could the 9-year-old girl in Blaze's group ask a lot of questions - and went out on their different routes. They all had their schemes for getting candy, and other events included a planned egging and TP-ing of Boothe's house.

But things got...strange...and frightening on the way. Cory's wolf-creature reappeared, and he led it off as Maryanne took his group of kids to safety. Astrid came across a vamped-out doppleganger of her near the hospital, and knocked it down as she got her kids to safety. Robert's sinister Puritan was after him, and set his costume alight for a moment before he hexed the figure into a nearby trash heap and got his kids out of there. Ben was stalked by the mysterious arctic explorer, one with inhuman, fluid featuers and many eyes under its dark hood, and got his kids headed back to school. Blaze was chased by a demonic version of Vice-Principal Boothe, complete with horns, hooves, and tail. Meanwhile at the school, Seamus ran afoul of a diabolic leprechaun, a manifestation of every deameaning Irish stereotype. Despite having a light fixture fall on him, the Watcher stood up to the creature, which grew to more than 8 feet tall. "It's all in my head. You are nothing to be afraid of!" And the thing vanished. Something was bringing everyone's fears to life.

The Slayer and her friends got the kids back to the school, with their nightmares in tow. They dispatched Astrid's vampire doppelganger, Ben's monstrous explorer, Cory's demonic wolf, and the mechanical marionette that had chased Chloe and her charges. With the way clear, the group made their way into the dance, which had taken on an odd, subdued tone as strange events started to happen in the school.

Seamus had begun to suspect a few things, and his contacts had gotten back to him. Ashanti had just arrived on a flight out from, it turned out, had Gideon Yeats! All of this seemed like an elaborate distraction, and he confronted his wayward daughter at the school dance. She broke down, overcome by her guilt, as the terror and threat of injury and death to innocents was too much to bear. She had met Gideon months ago, and agreed to his plan to steal the artifacts on display at the Night House. She knew that Gideon was using a ritual to power them up, something to do with the harvest and the fear of death.

The group's plans were momentarily derailed by the nightmarish doppelganger of everyone's least-favorite vice principal - now 8 or 9 feet tall - showed up. Astrid, Ben, Blaze, and Cory made short work of it, thanks to Chloe and Robert's distractions and Seamus's tactical aid. With it defeated, they figured out their next move. Gideon had indeed used the blood he stole to create a massive summoning circle at the heart of Collinsport, in the town square. Gachnar the fear demon was there, growing in power, and charging one of the artifacts at the Night House. That's where Gideon would be, stealing them. Seamus, Robert, Blaze, and Cory headed to the town square as Astrid, Chloe, Ashanti and Ben headed to the theater-slash-nightclub to deal with the rogue sorcerer.

"Fear me! I am no longer fun-sized! Tremble in terror!"

The group downtown manged, thanks to Robert's spell-casting, tap into the energy feeding the fear demon. They broke the circle confining Gachnar, who was now giant-sized instead of itty-bitty, and Blaze and Cory tore into him. Robert kept diverting power, lighting up the night and distracting Gachnar, as Seamus used a bit of occult knowledge to turn the circle against the demon, preventing it from using its powers of illusion and reality manipulation. As a purely physical threat, the fear demon was a fearsome foe, but a demon hunter and a werewolf proved to be a match for it.

Meanwhile, the Night House was full of patrons that had gone near-comatose from fear. Ben started clearing them out while Astrid and Chloe confronted Gideon. He wasn't alone - the scarecrow killer from the Samhain movies had manifested, and this nightmare was being fuelled by a whole theater's worth of minds. Astrid battled the thing as Chloe used her taser on Gideon. While the Slayer thought she saw her friend laid open to what appeared to be metal bones and wires beneath false skin by a slash of the psycho-killer's sickle, she figured it must have been more nightmare hoodoo. Astrid managed to drop the killer, and Gideon was overcome in short order.

Things came to a head after that. The rest of the group showed up, the police were called, and Gideon was placed under arrest. Things had gotten crazy in the streets of Collinsport, and Robert's impromptu "fireworks display" and "hallucinogenic candy, handed out by pranksters," were blamed for the "mass hysteria" that had struck. Seamus and Ashanti were reconciled, at least to some degree, and the Slayer and her friends spent the rest of Halloween night at home. Ah well, another boring Halloween had come to a close!
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Season 1, Episode 5 - Scorned

It was a Wedensday night at the Soundbox, and Astrid and her friends were there enjoying some live music and idle chatter post-practice and pre-patrol. The Slayer found herself playing matchmaker as Josie Evans confessed to finding Blaze...interesting...and made sure the two enjoyed a dance together. Maryanne Jennings was crushing on Ben - but who wasn't? Robert had drawn the attention of a dark-haired girl sporting the latest in Goth wear, one Gabrielle Trask. She confessed a certain interest in things dark, mysterious, and possibly magical, and Robert thought he might want to get to know her better. Even Chloe was there, forced into socializing, and she had an akward encounter with her perennial rival at the school science fair, Adrian Lennox.

The usual good cheer was interrupted when Astrid saw three vamps leading some unsuspecting high schoolers out into the back alley for a biting session. Ben and Blaze followed, with Chloe and Robert there to keep an eye on the door. The Slayer dealt with the trio of vamps quickly enough, but she couldn't escape the feeling she was being watched...

Meanwhile, Cory Jennings and Seamus Murphey were at the school library doing some late-night research on the Jar of Ammut. The ancient Egyptian vessel wasn't offering up many secrets. A knock at the door disturbed them. It was Caine Collins. He had learned of their interest in the occult and their little incident at the Collins' family cemetery a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly, he came to offer his help. Seamus was careful not to reveal too much, and was more than a bit suspicious of the timely offer. Things became even more strained after a vampire broke in, stole one of the Watcher's books, and made a run for it! Cory and Caine gave chase, though the vamp got away with Seamus's copy of the Sacred Rites of Osiris. Apparently this mysterious Lord Ruthven wasn't done with them yet.

The next day, around noon, the Cast was gathered in the library going over the theft and the report of a break-in at the Collinsport Museum the night before. The fact that the break-in left a guard dead and had apparently disturbed the new display of Egyptian artifacts was of no small concern. It was a display from the tomb of Khamenefru, a high priest from the New Kingdom era, which was discovered 80 years ago in the Valley of Kings. The most interesting thing was a silver wheel of some sort that had defnite occult significance. As the kids went back to class and got ready for an away game, Seamus went to the museum to do a little investigation on his own. He discovered the sarcophagus was warded with protective symbols and the dust of a recently destroyed vampire still littered the floor nearby. He spoke with the museum's research consultant, Professor Nathaniel Stokes, who as it turned out shared some friends in academia with the Irish Watcher. A courier dropped off some roses for the slain security guard as Seamus was there, a bouquet of Colonial Beauties. Not exactly the sort of flower one sends in such circumstances, especially such a rare flower only grown in a few locations around New England. Something was going on here...

After getting back from the game later that night Astrid went on patrol while Ben, Blaze, Chloe, and Robert thought about checking out the museum for themselves. Naturally it was closed, a fact which didn't necessarily deter them. Chloe sent up a drone to check out the roof, and found a damaged skylight and security junction box - no doubt evidence from the night before. She had the drone pick up another piece of evidence - a withered rose, a Colonial Beauty.

Meanwhile Astrid found that there was little going on around Collinsport on an undead front. She considered heading back home as she came across something unusual - a good, old-fashioned break in! It was at the Witch's Cauldron of all places, and as she looked down into the alley behind the shop, she saw four vamps leaving, one clutching a bag full of purloined goods. She dropped down among them, ready to lecture them on how crime doesn't pay as she dusted them, but they started to run! She took off after them, wounding the one with the goods and dusting the rest, but he got away with the merchandise. Astrid called the rest of the gang, and they showed up to get her as the police arrived, tipped off by Robert's phone call. He helped the police identify what had been taken after coming up with a plausible enough excuse for being out that late on a school night. They hadn't taken anything of real value, but he did get a list of the supplies they stole.

Blaze volunteered to drop people off, and as he was headed up to Collinwood to take Chloe home, they saw the lights were on at the Old House. Curiousity got the better of them, and they snuck up on the place. Caine was there, having a heated conversation with a woman with short, red hair. There seemed to be some sort of history between them, and she accused Caine of "making her what she was." She mentioned Lord Ruthven's name once, and said that Caine should join them! He told her his family came first, no matter that he barely knew any of them. Chloe decided to knock on the door, and Caine opened it, obviously startled. They saw no sign of the woman, but did see a familiar rose lying on a table in the living room....

She was striking, but there was something dangerous about this woman...

Friday was a no-school-day, but the Cast met up at the library anyway. Whoever the woman was, the roses were a clue. The group did a bit of research, and found only three growers locally. Robert called each to thank them for the boquet delivered to the museum, and found that one did not answer, a historian named Stephen Caldwell. The group went to check him out, and the door was answered by a dazed Caldwell wearing a smoking jacket and an ascot tie. In the middle of the afternoon. On a Friday. Astrid snuck around and into the house as Robert and Blaze kept the author busy. She made her way into a cellar and found the woman along with two other vamps! Whoever she was, she fled as the two minions kept the Slayer busy and she put Astrid under a temporary hypno-whammy of some sort. A quick tackle took down Caldwell, revealing a couple of puncture wounds on his neck, and Blaze and Ben made their way downstairs. Astrid finished off the two vamps, and they found a secret door in the cellar that led into some of the old Revolutionary War-era tunnels that ran beneath this part of Collinsport.

The Cast needed answers, and fast. They figured that whatever plans she had, they had to be accelerated by this point. Robert and Seamus had figured out the supplies she'd had stolen were for stripping away protective spells, sort of the magical equivalent of scrubbing bubbles. But they still didn't know exactly who they were dealing with. One person might have answers: Caine Collins. While Astrid, Robert, Blaze, and Ben went to the museum, Cory, Chloe, and Seamus went to Collinwood, specifically the old house, for answers. They got there just as the sun went down, and Caine let them in the house. Cory and Seamus were suspicious, almost accusatory, with their questions, but it was Chloe that got him to speak. Caine revealed the awful truth to them.

He was a vampire. He was the original Barnabas Collins, and he had been a vampire for two and a quarter centuries. He had assumed the name Caine to hide his return to Collinsport, at least from immediate discovery. Though he had been turned by another vampire, he was unlike the rest of his kind. Caine had a soul. It was revenge against him, revenged carried out by a woman he had spurned. A witch, named Angelique Bouchard, who he had met in Martinique in the late 1790s. She had been a servant of the DuPres family, aristocrats exiled from France follwing the revolution. He found himself falling in love with Josette DuPres, who had been promised to, and broke things off with Anquelique. Out of revenge, she cursed him to bring ruin to all he loved. He had the instincts of a vampire, but was cursed with a conscience.

The woman they had seen him with, Roxanne Drew, was someone he had met when he first returned to Collinwood in the late 1960s. Freed from his tomb, he had fallen in with others fighting the supernatural terrors around Collinwood at the time. Roxanne was a psychic that he fell in love with, but he lost control of himself and turned her into a vampire. He discovered only too late that she became a soulless parody of the woman he had been smitten with. He thought her destroyed long ago, but she had apparently fallen in with Lord Ruthven, who he learned was here trying to open the Hellmouth beneath Collinsport. A warlock named Judah Zachary opened it in the mid 1600s, and had tried to call up a demon lord named Dyagonus. The warlock was defeated by a Puritan adventurer named Solomon Kane, but the demon was trapped in the Hellmouth, like a cork in a bottle. No doubt Ruthven had plans for the demon lord, and Roxanne was helping him fullfil them.

Realizing the others might be in trouble, they raced to the museum. Astrid, Ben, Blaze, and Robert had already encountered Roxanne and her vampire minions, and had fallen prey to her hypnotic powers after dusting one of the vamps. The white hats rushed in, with Seamus freeing them as Cory wolfed out, Caine jumped Roxanne, and Chloe created a distraction with her drones. Roxanne threw Caine off of her and ran to grab the silver wheel, only to have Robert snatch it away with some telekinetic mojo.

Robert wasn't sure what hit him. No, really - what WAS that thing?!

Like she had planned. Robert set off the defensive magics on the artifact, summoning a demon. "It's the Guardian of Duat," Seamus yelled, "it will try and kill any who touched the wheel!" The thing was massive, like a baboon the size of a gorilla, covered in crocodile hide and black fur and clad in a linen loincloth and Egyptian headdress. With a curse, Astrid leaped at the thing, protecting Robert, as Blaze, Ben, and Cory dealt with the other vamps. Seamus shouted instructions as Robert used magic to try and hinder Roxanne, who grabbed the wheel from him and ran for the exit. Chloe and Seamus did their best to stop her, but the vampire was too fast and got away with the artifact, the Silver Wheel of Ptah. The heroes managed to slay the guardian demon, which mummified, withered, and crumbled to dust before their eyes.

Astrid had a few questions and wary words for Caine, who apologized for his deception. They all cleared out as the police were doubtless on their way. Seamus had learned the Wheel of Ptah could be used to open a portal to the underworld, and that a matching item, the Chime of Nepthys, could be used to ensure passage back. Apparently, these two combined with the Jar of Ammut, could result in some bad mojo.

Things had taken a dark turn for the Slayer and her friends...
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Season 1, Episode 4 - Ghosts of the Past

Monday night saw our cast up to their usual shennanigans. Seamus had learned the location of a nest of vampires making life difficult for Collinsport's late-night crowd in Collinsport Memorial Gardens cemetery. Astrid kicked in the crypt's door and she, Blaze, and Ben rushed in after a timely quip on the Slayer's part. Chloe held back, her new bow at the ready, with Seamus and Robert near the door. Corey had already shifted into his man-wolf form and bounded in behind the others. Astrid and Ben made short work of the first two vamps as Blaze got into a wrestling match with one tough female vamp. "I think she must have been a body builder or something!" Wolf-Corey struggled with one, claws raking the thing to shreds, as Robert used a bit of magic to hurl another around the crypt, keeping it off-balance.

Without warning, two more vamps joined the fray. They came out of nowhere, a hard backhand from each sending Seamus and Chloe tumbling aside. They were both dressed like 17th-Century duelists, complete with doublets and feathered hats! With a contemptuous snarl, they advanced on the slayer with their rapiers.

"We are the Sforza brothers," one began. "Ernesto and Julio. Lord Ruthven told us there was a Slayer here. But we did not expect to run into you so soon. Alas, it will be over too quickly for us to enjoy it!"

"You have that right," Astrid quipped. The two proved to be master sword-fighters, and Astrid had a hard time with Ernesto. She took two deep cuts to her torso, one to her leg, and a stab wound to one arm. Blaze had finished off his vamp with a combo of an overhand right cross and a stake to the heart, while Ben had taken another head and Corey ripped the fourth vamp to shreds. Ben rushed into to aid Astrid, taking a deep cut himself, while Blaze and Corey jumped the other duelist. Robert aided them with a magical distraction, while Chloe plugged him with a couple of arrows. Alas, none of them were a heart shot. Sensing the tide was turning, Julio called out "It appears the Jar of Ammut is not here, brother mine. Perhaps we should continue this another day?"

"Yes," Ernesto grunted as he shoved Astrid and Ben back. "Another day, Slayer! Then you shall feel the bite of my blade!" Shoving past Seamus - again - the two overdressed vampires fled into the night.

"Who talks like that?" Astrid asked, as the team gathered themselves up. A few bandages were called for. "I should be fine by morning," Astrid said. "Slayer healing and all that. If anyone asks...well, I'll say dad was cooking again. He's not too good with knives." Robert retorted that she'd better be healed up, because tomorrow was the first day of driver's education classes!

The day at school started off mostly normal. Robert and Astrid managed to forge her dad's signature on the permission slip. Seamus began to research the Jar of Ammut, along with Robert during his study hall. Corey got assigned Driver's Ed in addition to subbing for Mathematics by Vice-Principal Boothe. And then things started to get weird.

The glass shattered in the History classroom's door as Ben entered, and he saw a young man with long, curly brown hair in a letterman's jacet - a student he didn't recognize - in the hall. And then he was gone. Blaze saw the sinks in the boys' bathroom fill with blood - which vanished. Chloe saw a girl with retro-styled blonde hair and pale, blue eyes in a mirror in the girls' room, but when she turned around, the girl wasn't there. Seamus had picked up a new sword at the Witch's Cauldron, and on his way back to the library, had a brush with something in the school auditorium as a stage rope tried to hang him. Astrid dozed off in class and saw the boy with long, brown hair, the blonde girl, and a red-haired young man. While the girl was holding hands with the curly-haired guy, she was stroking the red-head's leg with her own under the desk.

Needless to say, they exchanged notes after lunch. With Chloe's help, Astrid and Ben went through the school's yearbooks to put names to the faces - Alex Drew, Olivia Carpenter and...David Collins. Chloe's dad. Back in 1975! They had a lot of questions, and no answers. And Driver's Ed! Astrid, naturally, got assigned a car with Laura Collins and Jason Stoddard. Laura was first at the wheel, and as they pulled out she began to have an argument with the instructor. Neither one sounded like themselves. In fact, Laura sounded like a jealous teenage boy and Mr. Reed like a frightened teenage girl. Laura began to swerve into traffic, and Astrid reached over, grabbed the wheel, and swerved to a full stop on the side of the road. Shaken, they snapped out of, well, whatever it was. They all walked back to the school grounds.

On the plus side, Laura and Chloe's dad David drove to school to pick them up, fatherly concern and gratitude in tow. He even invited Astrid and her dad to dinner at Collinwood in thanks! On the minus side, Laura would be there. But Chloe managed to invite Ben, Robert, Corey...and well. Maybe they could get some questions answered. At least Lee Raynor was getting out of the house for a while, his daughter mused. Seamus opted out, having learned the Jar of Ammut had been brought to this country in the late 1920s by one Carter Collins. He decided with everyone busy at the main house, it would be a perfect time to search the family's private cemetery.

Naturally, Seamus ran into a couple of vampires searching the cemetery as well. The jar was an artifact that would allow a dead soul to escape judgment, whatever that meant, so it had to be bad in the oh-so-mysterious Lord Ruthven's hands. He wisely made his way out of the area, looking for reinforcements.

Meanwhile, dinner was off to a good start at Collinwood. Carolyn Stoddard and Lee Raynor hit it off right from the start, a fact which pleased (and perhaps slightly worried) Astrid. And Caine Collins showed up late for dinner! While Jason Stoddard had expressed an interest in Astrid to Robert, who suggested she was, ah, a bit more than he could handle, Astrid was quite taken with the dashing Caine. Jason's curiousity started to take a different turn, one towards investigating the mysterious new girl. Ben was, naturally, the center of Laura's attention, and Blaze kept David Collins and the groundskeeper, Charlie Loomis, on their toes. Charlie reported they were likely in for a storm before long.

And then the lights went out, and things got David and Charlie went to check the fusebox in the basement, while Blaze and Chloe went upstairs to check the box in the east wing. Corey went outside with Caine to check the outbuildings, while Carolyn, Ben, Laura, and the rest went into the study. The French doors blew open, and Ben saw the young man - Alex - standing there, a tire iron in one hand, only for him to vanish in a flash of lightning. Chloe and Blaze saw the girl - Olivia - on the stairs, and she tried to push the youngest Collins down the long flight. She managed to hold on, but Blaze tumbled down, narrowly avoiding a broken arm. Outside, Corey felt like he was being buried alive, and barely made it out of the maintenance shed still breathing.

Seamus came up to the house at that point, and the lights came back on. Following the confusion, they all decided it was best to call dinner early. As Lee drove his daughter, Ben, and Robert back home, Cory and his sister Maryanne (who had of course been invited) accompanied Seamus back to his car. And subsequently they narrowly avoided being run off-road by a weaving and speeding black Dodge Charger! The muscle car ran off-road, apparently colliding with a tree. But when the duo checked, there was nothing there but an old, battered license plate.

The next day, their research continued. Alex, Olivia, and David had all been friends, but David had been quiet when asked about his high school days by Astrid. A bit of digging found no reports of an accident involving the car the license plate belonged to, a car which had been registered to Alex Drew. There were missing persons' reports filled out for him and Olivia, and it was assumed they skipped town and eloped. Both were never heard from again. On the day they left, the cast discovered there was one accident report filed - one for David Collins! He had been found by one Willie Loomis, the groundskeeper at Collinwood, after what had appeared to be a hit-and-run.

Before they could get much farther, disaster struck. Maggots and flies began raining down from the vents of the school's AC system, forming choking clouds of insects. The student body had to evacuate, and the cast thought things would only escalate as the anniversary of the duo's likely death drew closer. Robert began to put together what he would need for an exorcism, as Seamus, Corey, and a reluctant Chloe went to visit Willie Loomis at Collinsport's retirement home.

The old groundskeeper admitted that Olivia had come between David and Alex, and that the dark-haired young man had showed up at Collinwood one day when David and Olivia were together. He assaulted David with a tire iron, and took off with Olivia in his car. David followed, and it turned into a high-speed chase. Willie had been following behind, and saw the two cars collide. Alex's car spun off the road, and he and Olivia were killed by the impact. Hoping to spare David, he got the young Collins heir off the scene, then went back and towed the car away. He buried the bodies secretly in the Collins' private cemetery. Unwilling to condemn him for his actions, the trio left, and began preparations for Robert's ritual.

As night fell, the Slayer and her friends descended on the hidden burial site, right behind one of the newer mausoleums in the family plot. out of hand. It turns out that Carter Collins had been in possession of the Jar of Ammut back in 1928 when he died, and had it interred with him. More of Ruthven's vampire minions were on scene, along with the Sforza brothers. Naturally, a dust-up occurred right in the middle of the Blessing of Persephone, a spell to lay the unquiet dead to rest. As Corey and Blaze kept a pair of angry poltergeists busy, Robert worked his witchy mojo.

Meanwhile Astrid, Ben, Seamus, and Chole kept the vamps busy. Seamus tripped up the two vamp minions trying to abscond with the magic jar as Astrid took on one of the Sforzas and Ben the other. The Slayer paused long enough to save her watcher, taking a nasty stab in the process. Ben proved to be adept enough with the axe to avoid all but a couple of serious cuts as Chloe managed to land a few, telling arrows. Seamus recovered the Jar of Ammut as Astrid and Ben each finished off a Florentine duelist, and the last of the vamp minions.

Meanwhile, Blaze and Corey held off the angry spirits long enough for Robert to complete the spell. It was done. Alex and Olivia were laid to rest, and the Collins family was safe. As Astrid and her friends limped back home, they realized that some secrets would never stay buried.

Now if only they could unearth the secret of Lord Ruthven's plans, and what the master vampire had in store for Collinsport...
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Season 1, Episode 3 - Bad Moon Rising
Collinsport High had won the first football game of the season, and the victors, the cheerleading squad, and several more enthusiastic students decided to hold an impromptu celebration in the woods just north of the Collins family estate. The area was just down the hill from the Collinsport Historical Society Museum, and Seamus Murphey and Cory Jennings were in the area following up on reports of animal mutilations...and keeping an eye on the kids. They ran into Angela Darcy, who was stargazing in the parking lot of the museum...and keeping an eye on the kids. As moonrise neared, Cory noticed an odd feeling coming on, and decided to get home - and to his safe room - before the nearly full moon cleared the horizon.

Astrid, Blaze, Ben, Robert, and a shy and slightly nervous Chloe were mingling with their fellow students, enjoying loud music, school spirit, and possibly a few adult beverages. Maryanne Jennings was there, and Astrid told the freshman girl she should probably head home soon. They witnessed a small altercation between Collinsport High's resident angsty musical prodigy, Steve Harris, and one of the football team's resident jocks. Robert was able to defuse the situation, and Steve stormed off. Laura Collins traded a few barbs with Astrid, getting the worse end of the deal, but did manage to land a dance with Ben. Blaze talked briefly with another new student, Michelle Haskell, who flirted with him briefly and asked about Mr. Jennings before taking off, stating she had to get up early.

Several minutes later, a scream split the night air and everyone but Astrid, Ben, and Blaze froze. A junior girl, Erika Swenson, stumbled out of the woods and she was drenched in blood. None of it was hers. Chloe rushed forward to help her as Robert started clearing his fellow students out. Seamus arrived on the scene, and called the authorities. They found the body of Derrick Swenson in the woods, mauled almost beyond recognition. Large, dog-like footprints led away, and Blaze and Astrid took off following them as Ben volunteered to take Laura back to Collinwood, get the groundskeeper Charlie Loomis, and alert the Collins family.

Astrid and Blaze stumbled across Caine Collins along a trail through the grounds to the Old House. His initial bemusement turned to immediate concern and action. Though the strange trail had been lost, he offered Astrid his coat and escorted the teens back to the site of the party to get a look at the scene. Officer Brett Devlin, Blaze's older cousin, had arrived on scene and was cordoning off the area, getting statements from Seamus and later Caine, and sending kids on home. An ambulance took Erika away, and there was little else the kids could do. As they left, an eerie howl split the night air.

Cory Jennings woke up the next morning, alone and naked in the forest near Collinwood. Seamus had looked in on him that night, and he was nowhere to be found. The Watcher started combing the area in the morning, and picked him up on the side of the road. A change of clothes and a thermos of coffee later, they arrived at the school. There were a lot of questions to be answered, and few answers to be had. The younger cast members arrived and met later at the library, going over what happened. Cory had finally admitted that he was indeed a werewolf, and that after many tortured years had finally gained control of his transformations. But the night of the full moon and the nights before and after strained his control, and he was not always successful. The modified basement of his home was enough to keep him locked in, but he had never made it. The possibility occured that he might be innocent, and that another werewolf might be at large. To that end, the cast started following up on any students who showed signs of unusual anger or aggression before the full moon.

Two came to mind - Steve Harris and football player Adam Beckham, who had been unusually aggressive during the game and hadn't come to the party. Adam hit on Astrid some, who played along to get him interested in heading to the Soundbox that night, mostly to see if he would bite (not literally). Robert talked with Steve, who admitted to having ADHD and anger control issues. He felt bad about blowing up the previous night, and had gotten out of there before his temper took over. Scratch two suspects off the list. As the day progressed, Astrid looked in on Maryanne, who learned her brother was in the library. She barged in, smacked him the arm, and let him know how worried she was. Cory promised he wouldn't let her down again. Blaze followed up on Candace Banks, a girl with a history of fights and troublemaking, only to find she was a kindred spirit. Sharing a smoke behind the gym, he learned she had left the party with a couple of senior boys. They tried getting fresh, and she left them nursing sore...ah...well, her steel-toed boots said enough. She also let him know about a party at Tommy Prescott's house that night, as his parents were out of town for the weekend. It was for the older members of the football team and the cheerleading squad, and he, Ben, and Astrid had not been invited. It seemed Laura Collins was behind that, and after learning about it Astrid determined it must be some kind of test. She. Was. Going!

As all that happened, a note was left in the library for Cory. It was from Michelle Haskell. She wanted to talk with him about something "important" and asked to meet him alone at one of the storage buildings near the athletic field. Seamus had found the note, and went with him, ostensibly to keep an eye on things. Cory went in, and found the young woman there. Someone found the back of Seamus's skull, and knocked him out before chaining the two in the building. Michelle revealed that she, too, was a werewolf and someone was responsible for her condition - Cory Jennings! She produced a .25 automatic, one she said was loaded with silver bullets, and shaking pointed it at the young teacher. She had heard that killing the werewolf who turned her would break the curse. Cory shook his head - he knew better. Before their conversation could progress much further, smoke started filling the small building. Someone had lit it on fire! Overcome by fear, Cory and Michelle inadvertently transformed and broke out.

Ben, Blaze, and Astrid were nearby on the field, and rushed to the scene. Astrid checked on her Watcher as Blaze broke the chained door down! Ben rushed around the back, and saw a dog-like form dart between two buildings and the broken window it had leaped from. He followed the trail cautiously, and reached the street by the school, only to see an old, white van with a crescent-moon window taking off. Unable to get the plate, he made his way back to the others. Seamus had a lump on his head, but was otherwise fine. The coach had led the football team in forming a bucket brigade, and the fire was under control as emergency services arrived. Officer Devlin asked a few questions of his cousin and the other young people, but few answers were to be had. At least they knew to be on the lookout for an old, white van.

The cast began to make preparations for that night. Seamus called up his contacts, looking for spells to help track or control werewolves and whether or not any werewolf hunters were in town. He learned that a dangerous hunter named Caleb Morgan was in the area, and that any spells to control a werewolf could only be cast by another werewolf ironically enough. Robert started working up a tracking spell to find Cory, and Astrid agreed to watch over Maryanne Jennings - by taking her to the party! Ben and Blaze went along, feeling that the Slayer might need back-up, while Chloe and Seamus parked outside. If Cory was out of control, he would likely come for his sister. Things were set in motion.

The party was off to a good start - hey, the Prescotts had a pool, and that was always good - though Laura tried to get her digs in. Maryanne was nervous, but Astrid watched out for her...and trouble. It wasn't far off. Robert's tracking spell had locked onto Cory. And the werewolf was on the move. Towards the party. The werewolf crashed through the back fence, and as Ben and Blaze cleared out partygoers, Astrid pushed Maryanne into a bathroom and blocked the way. The werewolf was raging, and followed the young girl. Astrid dodged savage claws and snapping bites as she pummeled the lycanthrope. Blaze and Ben rushed into aid, and Seamus moved in for back up with Robert, who had just arrived. The young would-be warlock had picked up an Amulet of Cybelle from the Witch's Cauldron that afternoon, knowing it could help a werewolf reassert control, if only for a short time. With Blaze and Ben's help, he was able to get the amulet around the werewolf's neck. The change in its eyes was immediate. The werewolf gestured, urging the rest to follow, and took of at a steady run.

Caleb Morgan before...

Figuring that Cory had the answeres they were after, the rest of the cast followed. The trail led back across the highway and onto the grounds of Collinwood, near the abandoned caretaker's cabin. The van was parked outside. Blaze wasted no time, and kicked down the door to the cabin. A large man with graying hair and scars crisscrossing his torso was there. So was another werewolf chained to the cabin's floor! "Name's Caleb Morgan," he growled, "looks like the runaway done come back for this one! Ha! Good. I figured why take one skin, when I could take two. Shame you kids saw all this. Gonna have to make sure you don't go telling anyone. See, a werewolf's skin got power. Especially if you stitch it to your own hide!"

With that, the hunter transformed into a hulking werewolf more than 7 feet tall. Astrid ducked, slashing with her silver-plated sword as Cory-wolf collided with the monstrous werewolf like a fur-covered comet. The two rolled rolled out of the cabin, around the van, and back through the cabin. Astrid slashed and stabbed, narrowly avoiding evisceration a time or two as she was knocked aside. Ben plugged away with silver-tipped crossbow bolts as Blaze rushed in with his knife, only to be hurled to the other side of the van with a bone-jarring impact. Finally, Astrid had enough. As Cory-wolf and the monster wolf separated after breaking through the far side of the cabin, she leaped over him and slashed three times. Caleb Morgan fell dead, transforming back. Robert had freed the other wolf, and Cory managed to cow it into temporary submission, long enough for Chloe to recover Caleb's tranquilizer gun and knock both out.

...and after.

When the dawn came, they found out the other wolf was Michelle Haskell. She and Cory had been abducted by Caleb, and taken to the cabin to be skinned alive under the light of the full moon to boost his power. Seamus had made sure Morgan's body was in the cabin, which tragically burned down thanks to a tipped-over propane light. In the wake of everything, Seamus used his contacts to arrange for Michelle's transfer to a school for special youngsters run by a former Watcher of his acquaintance. There she would be protected and trained to control her transformations - or dealt with if she went out of control. Astrid, as it turned out, could be really scary when she wanted to be. But it was Saturday, a day to rest, and for Cory to go home and see his sister.
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Season 1, Episode 1 - Blood and Shadows, Part 2
With all the craziness at the cemetery said and done, the plucky teens had learned a few things. First, there were vampires. Second, Astrid apparently had super powers. Third, the new substitute teacher was a werewolf. Astrid went home to make sure her dad, Lee Raynor, got back safely and that she had beat him home. Blaze dropped Chloe back off at Collinwood, and got the van back home before his mom realized it was gone. Robert sneaked in late, and stayed up to do a little research on the "Rite of the Blood Moon" that the lead vamp had mentioned. Ben went back home to check on his grandpa and ask a few questions. The old old was he, really? Ben thought about it, and realized he was probably his GREAT-grandfather in reality. Old Buernor Thorson was probably around 110 years old! Anyway, he asked his grandpa if he knew anything about vampires. He didn't seem surprised at the question, and indicated that vampires had been around Collinsport for a long, long time. But if they were acting up now, it meant dark times were coming.

The next day at school was off to a more-or-less normal start, despite the dead bodies that showed up in chemistry class the day before. Astrid stopped by the library to inform Seamus Murphey about what had happened, figuring that the Watcher was good for some research while she tried to avoid detention. Ben likewise did some follow-up work on the students who had run into the vamps last night. One of the girls he had been talking to at the Soundbox had never come home, and a quick scan of the news revealed that two students at West Bay Academy had gone missing as well. Cory avoided answereding any uncomfortable questions about his, uh, condition and after being assigned study hall, joined the others in the library. During lunch and study hall, Chloe Collins and Blaze did what they could to help Seamus, which consisted of Chloe going over her drone's camera footage with the Watcher while Blaze made snarky comments and sneaked out to smoke. Robert joined them and managed to help Seamus put the final pieces together.

The Rite of the Blood Moon was a powerful spell, requiring the sacrifice of thirteen adolescents beneath the light of the lunar eclipse while on high. It would shake the earth, unleash evil, and even crack open a Hellmouth. Perfect. Collinsport had a Hellmouth of its very own somewhere. Robert started racking his brain, trying to figure out where such a ritual would likely take place. As he did that, Astrid and Ben arrived in the library. Going over the footage from her drone's camera, they saw the large vamp duck into a mausoleum near the one they battled in - and he never came out. The gang decided to load up in Blaze's van while Seamus continued his research and have a look-see for themselves.

The cemetery was more...ah...inviting during the day. Though it was an invitation the gang was likely to turn down.

Arriving back in the cemetery, they examined the tomb. As Blaze realized the mausoleum was too small on the inside, Cory found a loose torch sconce along the rear wall. Pulling it to one side, he opened a secret door. Beyond, steps descended into the darkness. The group went down the cramped stairs into old (probably Revolutionary War-era) tunnels that broke into the electrical tunnels that ran beneath modern-day Collinsport. Creeping ahead, Cory heard and smelled something in a utility room somewhere in front of the group. Sneaking ahead, he spotted a pair of vamps guarding three teenagers. The missing kids!

Before they could put together a plan, ahead. Kicking open the door, he and Astrid went on the attack as Chloe kept an eye, ear, and drone out behind them. Cory and Ben reached the kids, cut them loose, and looked for a way out. The sophomore from their school, Katie, told them about a maintenance ladder up ahead. Astrid and Blaze dispatched the two vamps pretty quickly, and Chloe had spotted several more vamps - eight at least - closing in from down the tunnel. Astrid ordered Blaze and Ben to make sure the kids were okay - by sprinkling them with holy water! The two West Bay Academy kids were fine, but Katie started to smoke and let out a growl and...well, Ben put her to rest. Chloe realized the ladder was a trap, and led them past it and into a storm drain system. Astrid pushed the heavy iron grate open with no problem, and the group retreated into the sunlight as the vamps closed in. Forced to retreat back into the darkness, they let the heroes go.

They had overheard the vamps talking about "going to a show" and "making sure they got there at the last showing" and Robert realized where they were going to hold the ritual: The Night House. The old theater and club was showing a "welcome back to high school hell" movie marathon by running the first three Nightmare on Elm Street movies back to back that night. The last movie would be halfway done by the time the ritual had to be performed, and there would be plenty of victims on hand for the vamps to sacrifice. They hashed out a quick plan, realizing that they had to have some people on the inside and some on the outside in order to surround the vamps and catch them off-guard. After taking care of a few things, they were ready to roll.

Blaze and Chloe bribed Randy, the projectionist, into letting them in the booth. Robert went to the show, waiting as the inside man. Astrid and Ben found the skylight over the three-story theatre's lobby, figuring that's where the ritual would take place, and prepared to rappel in to the middle of the whole thing. Cory and Seamus covered the main entrance, hoping to surprise the vamps left to guard it and cut off any reinforcements. At nearly 11:30, the vamps struck and the heroes moved into action.

She was a grand, old theater in her own right. know...with a lot of teenagers.

Chloe and Blaze hid as Randy was rousted from the projectionist's booth, and sneaked in behind the vamps, weapons at the ready. As Matthias, the vampire in charge (who now sported a crescent moon branded into his forehead) separated out the kids for sacrifice, Robert took up position. Seamus and Cory crept up to the main entrance. They all struck at once. Astrid and Ben crashed through the skylight as Robert used his man-witch-y telekinesis to pull the kids ready for sacrifice out of the way of harm. Blaze and Chloe jumped the vamps guarding the rest of the kids. Below, Cory turned into a massive man-beast and crashed through the glass doors, charging the vamps by the stairs.

In the general melee, Astrid managed to dust one of the vamps while holding Matthias in check. Ben dusted three more with the huge battle-axe he got from Seamus, while Blaze finished off a couple of more and then kept the big guy distracted. Cory tore through the vamps at the foot of the stairs while Seamus managed to keep one busy. In the end, Astrid plunged a stake into the big vampire's heart. As he began to crumble, he said "Lord Ruthven will see you dead, Slayer!" As ominous as that sounded, the good guys had won the day (er, night)!

After sorting out the business with the local police (which they were able to get away from, being "merely teenage bystanders") they headed back to Collinwood for some rest and relaxation. Laura Collins, traumatized as she was, demanded Ben escort her back. The strapping, blonde youth agreed heartily, and before long, they had all reached the manor house. Shortly after the witching hour was up, there was a knock at the door. Blaze cautiously answered. The darkly handsome young man Chloe had run into at the Soundbox the previous night was standing there!

"Don't invite him in," Astrid whispered in warning. The man stepped across the threshold, introducing himself to the kids and David Collins, who was just getting ready to head to bed himself.

"My name," he said, "is Caine Collins. My father, Barnabas Collins, is your older cousin I believe. I have come back to this, our ancestral home, to stay."

Weird and ominous? Seemed like just another night in Collinsport...
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