-Rules of the beast
A strong odor of bleach and chlorine saturated the room. Nicholaj Udulutch attended to his task with due diligence as he worked night and day beneath the sewers of London. He sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow before adjusting his spectacles. The soot colored man sitting on the gurney groaned in pain as he exacted two silver shuriken from his back.
Blood covered Nicholaj’s gloves and the white apron over his clothes. Abbas rose from the gurney and snorted demurely; the giant’s shadow absorbed Nicholaj. His wounds healed in an instant and he stretched his limbs and popped his neck. The piercings on his ears, nose, and brows shimmered. Nicholaj dropped each shuriken into a water basin. He brought his clamps and surgical scalpel to a sink and rinsed them thoroughly.
Despite the perpetual sound of running water and squeaking rats, footsteps pounded from the dark tunnel that led to the room. A man emerged from the darkness, Drake. Nicholaj knew at first glance by the blue eyes that pierced the veil of darkness. Abbas greeted Drake at the entrance and bowed.
“We weren’t expecting to see you so soon,” he said, his voice deep and monotone.
Drake nodded and placed a hand on his shoulder; Abbas stepped aside. The mad scientist removed his soiled gloves and apron, tossing them away as Drake approached. He rested his hands on his hips and watched as Drake inspected the make-shift lab.
Nicholaj pursed his lips and spoke in a distinct German accent. “I’m trying to work right now.”
Drake moseyed past him, brushing his shoulder, making the old man falter. He approached a large window overlooking a rounded room. Steel gurneys, each housing one patient connected to a blood transfusion, ran clockwise around the room, filling every space. Though the patients slept peacefully at first glance, ribbons of blood streamed from their eyes. Heavy flood lights stood watch every ten feet.
Drake turned and faced Nicholaj, his expression stoic.
“Every candidate has survived the transfusion. It’s just as you said: a sedative increases survival rate to ninety percent. The bleeding eyes are just a side effect. They will all be comatose until you want them awakened.”
“Good,” Drake replied. “We will need them when the time comes. You’ve done well.”
Nicholaj raised his arms and glanced at the lab. Flickering lights, a leaking ceiling, and graffiti-covered walls made it less than state-of-the art. But Nicholaj managed with his boards of formulas, chemistry sets, and workbenches. The German defected decades ago in search of sanctuary from the allied powers. In his eyes, the Third Reich still burned strong. After Germany’s defeat, he stumbled in the mist, blind and without purpose. That would be, until he crossed paths with Drake again, who made use of his particular skill set.
Nicholaj made a face. “I’ve done what you’ve asked.”
He turned to see Drake gone without a trace. Lips pressed against his neck and a voice spoke from behind. The blood drained from Nicholaj’s face and he stood petrified. His glasses fell and shattered upon impact; a dark shudder tore through his body.
“I should let Lyn tear you to pieces,” Drake whispered. “She loves hunting Nazis. She is a jew after all…”
“We had a deal…”
Drake chuckled. “You’ve done something for me; now I’ll do something for you. Do you want the bite?”
Nicholaj gasped. Abbas crossed his massive arms and his eyes brightened with curiosity.
“Do you want the bite?” Drake repeated, emphasizing each word.
Nicholaj gave a docile nod. Drake pulled his lips away and grabbed his arm. Massive fangs dripped with saliva as he clamped onto Nicholaj’s forearm. The German’s body recoiled, and he collapsed to the ground and convulsed. What little hair he had left fell from his head and a darkness spread within his veins, consuming him like a wildfire.
His mouth foamed, and he continued convulsing until his body ceased. He curled into a ball and shivered, sucking a thumb.
“It’s- it’s so cold,” he stammered. “Why is it so cold?”
Drake scoffed. “There’s your immortality…”
He faced an old photo resting on one of the work stations. A woman leaned seductively on an Indian motorcycle. The photo was black and white, but did not draw away the woman’s beauty. A mix between darkness and light stressed her curls. Drake recognized those full lips and heart-shaped face. He wiped the blood from his mouth and felt a moment of solace as he saw his red-headed she devil.
Her handwriting transcribed the top corner of the photo with a lipstick mark. From Anna with love.
“We found it under the rubble of the estate,” Abbas said.
Drake removed the photo from its frame, folded it, and placed it in his coat pocket.
Without looking at Abbas, he spoke in a flat voice: “Abbas, if you knew how you were going to die, what would you change about your life?”
The giant shrugged. “I wouldn’t change anything…”
“What has your spy learned?”
“Sullivan has both pearls. He plans on awakening Aspasia, but before then, the four horsemen will march on this city and obliterate it two weeks from now.”
Smiling from ear to ear, Drake leaned against a desk and removed the scarab from his pocket. The beetle opened its shell and flapped its mechanical wings. The red orb in its mandibles glowed, and demonic energy surged through his body as purple lightning releasing as steam. His face relaxed, and he moaned as if climaxing.
Drake gritted his teeth. “Acheron… It’s so powerful; even now, it fights me for control…”
Abbas lifted the decrepit scientist from the floor and laid him against the gurney amid the room. Nicholaj muttered broken German as Abbas covered him with a blanket.
Abbas watched his master gaze at the circular room behind the glass, folding his hands behind his back.
Anna’s voice echoed in Drake’s head. He thought of the hollow in place of her heart.
“Drake, I’m going to ask you to do the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Can- can you just be human?”
He placed a hand over his heart as rage diluted his soul. “My tears are all dried up, Anna. Humans destroy everything they touch…”
Reality hit Drake like a revelation, and he shook his head. Abbas knelt by his side on a knee, a vest made of leopard skin covering his massive frame, and gold vambraces on his forearms.
Drake took a breath and said without shifting his gaze: “There’s a woman with a large A branded on her back with platinum colored hair.” He handed him a cloth. Abbas took one sniff and handed it back. “Kill her, afterwards, go to Westminster, and silence Sullivan’s investors…”
Abbas bowed. “As you wish.”
He vanished just as soon as the words escaped his mouth.