I've been saturating my brain with 'Tomb of Dracula' lately (guess what next week's 'Storytelling Engines' entry is going to be about?) and it occurred to me that it'd be a lot of fun to see Dracula's reaction to the SHRA madness currently running its course in the Marvel Universe. Then it occurred to me that no, really, it would be a lot of fun...and my brain sort of worked out how it would go as a one-shot special. Namely:
The series opens at an abandoned mansion in Boston at dusk, with Iron Man descending on boot-jets outside. He is greeted by a servant, who ushers him into the presence of a slightly gaunt, but very much alive Dracula, Prince of Evil, Ruler of Vampires. "Up until recently," Iron Man says, "I was under the impression you were truly dead. Blade blew up the SHIELD helicarrier where your body was stored, but--"
"Blade did not have time to finish the job," Dracula sneers, "and the cemeteries are filled with men who have thought Dracula truly dead. How did you find me here? The eyes of technology cannot see the vampire."
We cut to the view through Iron Man's eyes, as Dracula appears as a silhouette in his viewscreen. "We tracked reports of vampire activity to this vicinity, and our psy-ops division pinpointed this house as a site of paranormal activity. As to how I'm perceiving you now, my armor is mapping disturbances in the air currents and using them to extrapolate your mass. I'm here to inform you that you, Vlad Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes, Vlad Tepesch, and Vladimir Drake, that you are in violation of the Super-Human Registration Act, which requires all beings of post-human capabilities to register said abilities with the appropriate governmental body and--"
He's cut off by a hard backhand that sends him sprawling. "You dare make demands of Dracula? I, who have stalked the earth at my pleasure for more than five hundred years? I, who have buried all those who came to slay me?" As he talks, he's slapping a surprised Iron Man around. "I am Dracula. You are mere cattle in my eyes, meat for the slaughter. Do not seek to presume upon me."
After a moment of this, Iron Man recovers and starts fighting back. He's more than Dracula's equal in physical strength, but Dracula is fast, has centuries of battle-savvy, and has shape-shifting abilities. Finally, just when Iron Man seems to be gaining the upper hand, Dracula vanishes altogether. He hears the vampire's voice around him, though. "You see where I am through the movement of the air, my modern-day knight. But how shall you see Dracula...when he becomes insubstantial mist?"
Drac seeps in through Iron Man's atmospheric filters, gathering in his mouth and nose, choking him with the stench of death and worse than death. Barely able to breathe, Iron Man smashes his way out of the mansion and flies west at top speed. Blinded, out of control, he nonetheless chases the embers of the fading sun to the point where they are too bright for Dracula's taste, and the Lord of Vampires retreats. Nonetheless, his mocking laughter resounds in Tony Stark's ears...
Cut to the SHIELD helicarrier, where Iron Man is addressing a team of agents--and Blade, who is a registered super-hero and thus a logical guest-star. "This is who we're dealing with," Iron Man says, delivering a potted history of Dracula for the benefit of people who haven't read 'Essential Tomb of Dracula'. "He's no horror movie--this is the real thing, an honest-to-God vampire with everything that comes with it. Both in terms of strengths...and in terms of weaknesses."
We pan out to a long shot of the helicarrier, which is floating over Dracula's mansion. Dracula comes out to look at the commotion, and even the lord of the undead is shocked at the sheer mass of the floating fortress...and more shocked to see dozens of SHIELD agents, Iron Man, and Blade descend from the skies. He moves to run, but the helicarrier projects a spotlight onto him with a cross dead in its center. The holy symbol saps his strength, forces him to stay in his human shape, and as SHIELD agents surround him armed with stake-guns, he spits impotent curses at them all.
"Last chance," Iron Man says. "You can either register, sign up as a deputized SHIELD agent, and work with us to root out and destroy the vampires you've helped create...or I can give you to Blade here, who's really hoping you choose Option B."
"Never!" shouts Dracula. "Never shall I bow and scrape to a mortal who is nothing more to me than a walking feast!" He looks up to the night skies, using one of the lesser-known vampiric powers...the ability to control the weather. A strong gust shifts the helicarrier just a few feet before its pilot compensates, but that few feet is enough to move the spotlight off of him. Shifting his form into a bat, he flies away, dodging stakes and silver bullets.
Later, in a dark cave, he nurses his wounds and rails at the injustice of having to flee the field of battle. But, he swears, he will not flee again! For he is Dracula, and he has prepared many snares and traps for his enemies over the years...some overt, but some most subtle indeed...
Cut to a few nights later, and a young woman walks through the darkened streets of Boston. She hears a noise, and her footsteps quicken. Then quicken more in dread, as she feels a dread presence behind her. She looks around, sees nothing, but her instincts tell her to run ever quicker. Another glance behind her reveals nothing...
And she runs headlong into Dracula, who waits for her with fangs bared. He leans in for the kill, only to be startled when the woman (one Ms. Carol Danvers) gives him a hard right cross that sends him flying. Infuriated, he charges towards her to give battle.
But just then, one--then many--then dozens of crosses expand out of the very air all around him. Dracula recoils, recoils again, realizing in horror that there is no place to recoil to. At bay, he snarls and bares his fangs...
And Iron Man descends on his boot-jets again. "Miniaturized holographic projectors," he says to the helpless lord of vampires. "They can follow you wherever you go, and if need be, I can deploy over a hundred more. There's no escape for you this time."
Just then, a balding man in a suit approaches. "Mister Tony Stark? AKA Iron Man, Director of SHIELD?" Tony pauses, uncertain, then nods. "Mister Stark, I have here an injunction ordering you to cease and desist all harassment of my client, Mister Tepes, and to immediately and forthwith vacate the whereabouts of his person pending a full and complete investigation of your conduct in this circumstance. The Super-Human Registration Act clearly applies to living beings, of terrestrial and non-terrestrial origin, while my client is equally clearly deceased. As a result, he is not subject to SHIELD jurisdiction as either a citizen or a foreign national." The lawyer hands Iron Man a sheaf of papers. "I think you'll find these are in order."
Iron Man looks them over, then looks up at the lawyer...and through his viewscreen, we see him as we saw Dracula, a silhouette of air currents. "You're a vampire too," Tony Stark snarls. "How do I know you didn't hypnotize the judge into granting you this injunction?"
The lawyer sneers. "An interesting argument, which you can save for your appeal. Rest assured, I have enough grounds for counter-suits to keep this tied up in court until your descendants are ancient."
Iron Man's fists clench. "But he's a mass murderer!"
"Not SHIELD's jurisdiction. Your job is to enforce the SHRA...and since that doesn't apply to my client, unless you want to trample over the laws you killed men to enact, I'd suggest you let it drop."
The holographic crosses fade. Dracula straightens up, dusts off his outfit, and smiles. "It pleased me, Anthony Stark, to best you in the field of battle you chose--the field of rules, and laws. Society's battleground. But I will never forget the insult you dealt to me. Do not sleep easy, man of iron. For one night, I shall come calling on thee..." Dracula fades into mist, and is gone. And even in his insulated armor, Iron Man feels the chill of the grave...