"Jared Hedge was one of the Spanish Inqusition's most dangerous and sadistic torturers." Rust explained. Derek was leaning forward in the middle seat of the back of the jeep while Janice continued to sulk and just stare out of the window with a scowl on her face. "He started out as a doctor, learning everything he could about the human body and how it operated. He began to investigate the lengths of pain the human body could handle. Since then, he's been obsessed with causing as much pain to a person and keeping them alive. As such, he's gone freelance and according to his record, nobody has ever denied him answers or cooperation."
"Wait, did you say the Spanish Inquisition?" Derek asked, frowning. "But they haven't existed in over a century and a half. Are you telling me the Spanish Inquisition is still a thing?" Rust hit his head lightly against the headrest as he drove.
"No. Jared Hedge is a vampire. Vampires are immortal and as such, he's been alive since the eighteen hundreds. It's simple, Kid. Jared's been hired by someone to try and find us and honestly, I'm quite flattered. We've tried to keep a low profile but obviously, we've made a bigger commition than we thought."
"Okay, so let's say this is all real. There are vampires, they're after you. Where do I come into this?"
"At first, I thought Hedge just wanted to get our location out of you after someone must have seen you with us. So he must have thought you were a contact or something and tried to get our location out of you. But..." Rust trailed off and sighed.
"But what?" Derek asked. "Let me guess, I'm a vampire? These claw marks are what it takes to be a vampire?"
"Not really. Don't you find it strange how you're not dead? You should have bled out by now. And why are you still not writhing in pain? You've got a total of ten holes in your body now, all of them made with what I'd guess is a brutal grip." Derek opened his mouth but stopped and slowly closed it again. Rust was right. His wounds had stopped bleeding but they were still wet with blood. He should've died hours ago from the blood loss, even from one of the claw wounds. He frowned slightly and looked back up.
"And why am I still alive?" He asked."Because you're one of us." Rust replied. "You're a sorcerer, kid. When you were on the brink of death, your dormant magic reacted and kept you alive." A grin spread across Derek's face.
"Does that mean I can do magic? I can make an axe out of bri-"
"No, you can't!" Janice suddenly snapped, breaking her silence. "You can't do anything! You're just a stupid little child who's been tossed into the middle of a meat grinder and have to climb out before you're ground into a paste for a burger!"
"Jane..." Rust started but he was cut off as she turned in her seat to face Derek, her eyes burning with anger.
"The only reason you're alive right now is because we happened to be in the area! You're not a special little snowflake, you're not going to be able to make weapons out of anything, you just got lucky! So shut up and stop being such a stupid idi-"
"JANE!" Rust roared, causing her to spin around before the jeep slammed headfirst into a large van which had just come out from a side road, buckling the hood and slamming Jane's head against the windshield, which shattered and the girl slumped in her seat, unconscious. Rust, on the other hand, had braced himself against the steering wheel at the last moment and managed to keep himself conscious, however the wheel itself buckled and snapped forward, causing Rust's own weight to slam the wheel against his fingers, causing him to cry in pain and drop the now detached wheel. Meanwhile, Derek's forward momentum had been instantly halted by the two seats in front of him hitting his shoulders. He felt an incredible surve of pain from his right shoulder, the wounded one, and yelled, his other hand going on to the shoulder as the pain very slowly subsided. He looked up and saw two figures walk out of the van, both wearing sharp suits and the sleeves rolled up. They both had those long, razor-sharp talons instead of fingers and their eyes were hidden with sunglasses. Derek looked at Jane, unconscious, then at Rust, who was clutching his fingers to his chest, making it obvious they were broken. He looked at the men outside and gritted his teeth.
"Stay here and stay down." He growled before kicking the jeep door open and stepping outside. He put his hands to his side and as soon as the door closed, the vampires leapt, practically flashing at Rust and their claws were on him within seconds.
He grunted when one set gripped his arm but headbutted the vampire whose claws they were, causing the creature to go sprawling across the ground. Derek peeked out over the dashboard and saw the vampire pick itself up. Its face was nearly caved in and, as Derek watched, it began to pop back into place, like someone pushing out a dent in a bottle. Within seconds, its face was good as new and it was joining its comrade, who was clutching Rust's back and trying to bite any part of the man it could. The first vampire leapt again, however only landed on the ground as Rust slammed himself onto his back. The second vampire only just managed to get out of the way in time before it was crushed. The first vampire bounded towards Rust and he rolled over before the set of ten talons embedded themselves halfway into the ground where his face used to be. The vampire shrieked as it tried in vain to wrench its arms free. As it screamed, its shirt began to strain and a long tear suddenly tore open on the creature's back, revealing a set of long spiked lifting from its back, connected by a thin membrane of skin which was dark red in colour. The vampire planted its feet on the ground and wrenched, yanking its hands from the ground just as Rust planted the toe of his boot onto its chin, causing the vampire to fly backwards several meters. The second vampire was hanging back a bit, watching the other two fight. Obviously, he chose to let his partner weaken Rust a bit before joining in the fight. Derek watched the second vampire, terrified and sweating profusely. His breath was coming in ragged gasps and he felt his heart beating his ribcage like a hammer on an anvil. Right at that moment, the vampire's head tilted slightly, as if hearing something and its head snapped towards Derek. Their eyes locked and Derek froze, unable to move. The beast's eyes had fixed every muscle of his body and he couldn't move a finger. The creature seemed to grin, showing all its unnatural and disturbing teeth before slowly making its way towards the car. It moved on all fours, like a predator and its frame was lanky, as if it hadn't eaten in weeks. When the creature reached the hood of the car and jumped up, Derek was able to move again and his hand isntantly went to Jane's shoulder.
"Janice..." He muttered, his mouth dry and his voice coming out as little more than a croak. He swallowed. "Janice..." His voice was a bit louder this time but still barely a whisper. The vampire was leaning its head into the car now, sniffing the air as if tasting Derek's fear and savouring it like a fine wine. Derek glanced at Jane's still unconscious head and then back at the vampire. His heart began to beat even faster and not just because of the vampire. "JANE!" He yelled and suddenly pinched her cheek. Her eyes snapped open and her fist instantly lifted faster than a flash. The vampire's eyes widened for a split second before it smashed against the ceiling of the car, Jane's fist on its stomach. The thing screached and swiped at Jane, who'd already opened the door and stepped out. She grabbed a handful of the thing's stomach, digging her fingers into it and splattering dark blue blood all over the car. The vampire screamed as it was dragged out and swiped at Derek once more but he was alread huddled as far from the thing as he could get and was out of reach. The vampire's own shirt ripped open, displaying the same ridge the first vampire had with the same dark red membrane. It jumped at Jane, flexing its body backwards to avoid the concrete sword in her hand and its feet landed on her shoulders. Before it could attack, she brought the sword up faster than the vampire must have thought before it was stabbed through the thing's back and out its chest. The creature shrieked in pain and Jane ran her hand along the ground, coming up with another axe which she used to cleave the vampire's head off. Like the rest of them, it dissintegrated a second later and Jane turned to see Rust stomp and crush the head of the first vampire like a grape. As soon as the vampire was dead, Jane instantly went to the jeep, yanked the back door open and grabbed Derek's ankle. There was a split second of panic before he tried to grab at something - anything - to stay inside the car but the pain just flared in his shoulder and his arm when he moved his arms too fast. Jane yanked Derek out and he thumped into the ground, the air leaving his lungs before he recieved a very hard slap across the face. He felt her nails as well and tasted blood.
"Don't you EVER touch me again!" She growled and turned away from him, leaving him with bleeding wounds for the second time that day. He groaned quietly, a bit pathetically and Rust looked down at him. Aside from his broken hands, he'd gotten out of the fight relatively unharmed.
"Don't take it too personally, kid," He said. He wasn't even out of breath. "With any luck, you'll be out of our hair in the next few hours. We've got someone to train you."
The jeep pulled up to a small, derelict part of town, outside what looked like an old school. Jane and Rust got out of the car and Derek cautiously followed, staying as far away from Jane as he could. He'd accepted another scrap of Rust's coat to hold against his face to stem the bleeding. Jane hadn't said anything on the trip to the school, just stayed quiet and continued looking out the window, flashing hateful glances at Derek in the rearview mirror from time to time. They stepped into the school and it looked like the place was empty. Wallpaper was peeling, there was a musty smell in the air, cobwebs hung from the high ceiling... everything you'd expect from an abandoned building. Rust closed the door behind them and stepped forward. As soon as he did, he suddenly vanished from sigh. Derek stared for a few seconds before blinking a few times and opening his mouth slightly. Jane, silent as usual, followed suite and stepped forward, vanishing as well. Derek stood there for a few moments before closing his eyes, taking a deep breath and walking forward himself. He felt a cold sensation, as if'd stepped through a waterfall, and it was instantly replaced by a warm feeling. He opened his eyes and saw both Rust and Jane looking at him. Rust had that normal indifferent look on his face, whereas Jane had a scowl on her face, as if she didn't want him to show up. They both turned and walked down what was now a brightly lit hallway. Derek looked around, feeling like he was in a hospital or laboratory of some kind. He was led to a small room where a young man was reading a book by the light of a lamp. The room was a simple room. There was a counter, on which were microscopes, a stethoscope and several other medical items. Rust coughed slightly and the man looked up. Instantly, his eyes went to Derek and his shoulder.
"Ooh... Vampire attack?" The man said with a London accent. Rust nodded and then he and Janice turned to leave. The man stood and put a careful hand on Derek's shoulder, leading him to the other chair in the room. "I'm Doctor Cutthroat, just give me a few moments and I'll patch you up." He smiled and began rooting through drawers and cupboards, pulling out several lengths of thread, needles and what looked like short metal cones. Derek didn't say anything as he watched the doctor work, only thought about his name. Why was he called Doctor Cutthroat? It was a pretty hypocritical name for a doctor. "So, how'd you get caught?" The doctor asked. "Was it by surprise? Are you the latest bait, a newbie, what?"
"I'm... Not exactly sure..." Derek admitted. "I just woke up this afternoon and some guy dragged me off."
"Ah, I see. Yeah, that'll happen sometimes. Just make sure you get some good training and you'll be right as rain in no time." Doctor Cutthroat turned to Derek. He pushed one of the cones into a hole and it fit perfectly. The doctor nodded and began sewing, the needle going through the cold metal like it was made of paper. Derek winced the first few times he pushed the needle through but managed to maintain a straight face for the rest of the stitching.When he was done with his shoulder and arm, the doctor took away the cloth still covering Derek's face and let out a breath, visually wincing when he saw the deep scratches. "That's Janice's work, if ever I've seen it..." He mumbled. "No worries, though. Just a few stitches and there'll barely be a scar." He smiled and turned back to his equipment.
"Why the metal cones?" Derek asked. "I didn't think doctors do that."
"Ah, yes, normal doctors don't. But this metal is the only material that can withstand a vampire's talon and thus, guarantees the wound time to heal. And the claw won't push the cone furter in, either. That thread there's unbreakable. The woman who sold it to me said that it was made from the fur of the Nemerian Lion itself." The doctor explained before swivelling back to begin work on Derek's face.
In just fifteen minutes, the doctor was done and he slapped his thighs.
"And that's you done! Now, do try and not let yourself get grabbed by any more vampires." Doctor Cutthroat smiled before turning back and picking up his book. Derek raised a hand to lightly touch the stitches. They felt like they weren't even there, like the stitches on the hems of clothing. He didn't poke or pull at them, though. He didn't want his face to be even more disfigured than it already was, however he had a feeling that the doctor was telling the truth; there wouldn't be a whole lot of scarring. He looked at his arm next, specifically the metal circles now embedded in his skin. There were four of them on the inside of his arm and one on the outside. He pushed himself off the bed with his left arm, the one where his shoulder had been pierced. He stepped out of the room and looked up and down the corridor, seeing nobody there. With a half shrug, he made his way back to the entrance, deciding to wait for Janice and Rust there. He leaned against the wall opposite the front door for about fifteen minutes before they turned a corner at the end of the hall. Derek almost smiled before he saw Janice with that same annoyed look on her face and he instantly looked down at the very interesting cracked tile on the floor again. When he saw Janice pass, he glanced up and saw Rust looking down at him and holding out what looked like a soft package. Derek frowned slightly.
"What's this?" He asked, taking the package.
"Clothes and armour." Rust replied. Derek was a bit confused when he said 'armour', as the package was definitely too light and soft to hold anything protective, even a bulletproof vest. "Get changed and meet us in the jeep."
"Okay..." Derek looked around and slipped into what seemed like a supply closet. He crouched down and carefully opened the paper around the package, revealing a dark blue leather jacket. It was sleeveless and went down to Derek's knees. It felt weightless in his hands, too, and the inside was lined with some material that he hadn't even seen before. Putting the coat to the side, he then pulled out a shirt made of a similar material to the inside of the jacket but a darker blue. Hesitantly, he pulled his own sleeveless top off and slipped on the new one. It fit perfectly and again, had next to no weight to it. After the shirt was a pair of jeans. At least, they looked like jeans. It didn't feel like denim at all. Nevertheless, Derek was happy to get out of the dusty and loose trousers he'd taken from that abandoned building. The trousers as well fit as perfect as a glove. Finally, at the bottom of the package, were a pair of what looked like heavy boots but, as he suspected, they were very light as well. He slipped on the boots and put on the jacket before frowning slightly. Rust had said that the package contained armour. However, when he looked down at the now blank paper, there was nothing else. No chestpiece, no gauntlets or sabatons... With a shrug, Derek put the old clothes in the paper and wrapped them up. He took a step towards the door and hesitated before dumping the clothes in the bin that was in the cupboard. He then stepped out of the cupboard and walked towards the main door, feeling a bit naked due to the weight of the clothes. He had to keep glancing down at himself every few seconds to make sure they weren't ripping or falling off him. When he passed through the gateway(?) between the hospital and the school's interior, he braced himself for the chilling sensation again, however there was absolutely no change in the air this time.With yet another shrug, Derek stepped outside and looked around, seeing the jeep across the street. He quickly walked over and climbed into the back seat, behind Rust this time to try and stay away from Jane. He definitely wasn't liking her one bit. She glanced back at him with her usual hateful look before staring at the road straight ahead.
"We'll be taking you to see Jeremy Sarper." Rust said as he began driving again. "He'll try and determing just what you'll be good for." He turned a corner onto Summerset Drive.
"I've been meaning to ask," Derek said, sounding curious. "Do you have, like, codenames? I mean, you're called Rust, the doctor back there was called Cutthroat... Are you part of some sort of government organ-"
"Your new name's Cockroach." Janice interrupted. She liked interrupting him. "And don't say anything or I'll tear those stitches out and rip your eye out myself." Derek instinctively covered his eye but lowered his hand again. He remember the contraption that Hedge had strapped to him and shivered slightly. He liked having both eyes.
They pulled up outside an unremarkable-looking house. Rust and Janice got out of the car, followed a second later by Derek. As soon as Rust stepped through the gate, his fist was in front of his face, clutching what looked like a long, thin spike that was an inch from his face.
"Quick to react as always, Rust!" A voice laughed from the house and the door opened, revealing a short old man carrying a walking stick and with a pair of thick glasses on his nose. He was dressed as if he was going to gold and his short hair was neatly parted to one side.
"In a few decades, they'll find my body here and you'll have to admit to murdering me." Rust replied, not sharing the old man's enthusiasm. "Jeremy, we need your help. This kid was targeted by a group of vampires. Jared Hedge was part of them." Jeremy Sarper's smile dropped and his face turned deadly serious.
"Come inside and we'll talk about it." He muttered, waving them forward and walking to the house.