Normal was what Lord Edward Edenred considered himself to be. He realised that he was richer, considerably richer than the average man, but he liked to pride himself on the fact that he was still normal. Granted he lived in a number of large houses, had a number of servants and a personal wealth of over three million pounds sterling, yet he still felt that he had the same values as the working man.
Many of his social peers were so far removed from the people who kept their estates going, and who provided much of the income upon which they depended, that they seemed to be of a completely different breed of human. They might as well be aether-born for all their understanding of the social Moines of the lower classes.
He put his supposed normality down to the fact that his father had been a forward-thinking man and had promoted his people based on merit. He didn’t give a fig for the social standing of someone if they were incompetent, he just cared about making the right decision for his people and the business. This had win him the love of his people and the enmity of those he passed over in equal measure.
His approach didn’t deviate when it came to his son either. Edward had been made to work alongside the farm workers, the stable-boys, the clerks, the maids, the household staff and the butler, all so that he could gain and understanding of the effort that went into maintaining his lifestyle and to never take things for granted.
Being a realist however, he realised that were a number of things that set him aside from all aspects of society. One was his ability to tinker with mechanics, and having the money to pay for his inventions.
The second was his strong sense of justice and his willingness to put his neck on the line. This willingness was the reason he was sat in the shadows of a warehouse, watching five ruffians unloading crates clearly marked ‘Her Majesty’s Relief for the Poor of Manchester’.
Nothing chafed at his sense of right and wrong than seeing people benefitting from the misery and desperation of others. There was a quiet snick, looking down to work out the source, he realised that he had been clenching his hands hard enough to cause the wrist spurs mounted in his vambraces to deploy. He sighed, and slowly pushed down onto the stone floor, securing them back in their housing until he needed them.
The men below were splitting their time between cursing at the weight of the boxes, and laughing at the pay off they were going to get. Slowly, he reached up and put on his mask. As he did so, he felt the familiar thrill as the aether-charged mask started to change him. His muscles grew larger, his chest swelled, and he felt his rib-cage joining together, forming a solid wall of bone over hIs vitals. At the same time, his vision changed, all of the colours changing so that they were vibrant, living things, rather than the dull colours of reality.
His breathing grew quicker as he readied himself for the fight to come. These men had proven themselves undeserving of the right to life, they were carrion feeders that were soon to just be carrion.
He reached down with both hands and twisted the valves on his leg braces, immediately he felt the springs within them coil, ready be released at his command.
“Who dares to steal from the poor.” he knew it was more than a bit melodramatic, but Jack, Spring Heeled Jack was a melodramatic person. After all, how many other people bounded twenty feet through the air in one leap?
The men cringed as his voice boomed out, the mask’s aether amplifying the shout so that it shook the windows of the warehouse in their frames.
He was amongst them before they had time to recover. Stamping on the knee of the man in front of him, he laughed at the sound and feel of the bones snapping, and the agonised squeal that came from his victim. A stiff fingered strike to the man’s throat sent him to the floor, choking for breath.
Turn around.he spun at the warning from the mask, clenching his fists and deploying the wrist spikes as he did do. Just in time he managed to cross block a vicious downward swing from a crowbar wielding attacker. Punching up with his left hand, he took the crowbar out and away, whilst slicing across the man’s stomach with his right hand. The man looked down in horror as there was a wet slurping sound and his innards spilled out onto the floor. Without a sound he dropped to his knees and started trying to stuff them back in. Jack jabbed with his left, punching his spike through the man’s forehead, driving so hard that the blade cracked through the other side with a dribble of brain matter slipping out as he withdrew his hand.
The sound of a hammer being cocked on a revolver to his right sent him straight to the floor. There was a loud crack as the round shot through the gap he had created. A wet thud and a grunt came from the man on his left, who had taken the round in his chest. He fell to the floor, crying and struggling for breath.
Jack spun on his back, pointed his left wrist blade at the shooter, and slammed his right hand down onto the release catch. The was a sound similar to that of a bed spring going, and the spike flew into the man’s thigh. Dropping his revolver, the man clutched at the metal jutting out of his leg and tried to pull it out, hobbling backward as he did so.
There were two things that he hadn’t realised however. The first was that the very tips of Jack’s spikes were barbed. Then other was that there was a very fine wire leading back to Jack’s wrist.
“Here, let me help you with that.” Jack grabbed hold of the wire and yanked hard, ripping the spike free in a spray of blood. Still holding the wire he twirled the spike around his head as he regained his feet, keeping the last of the ruffians at bay.
“You fucker, you absolute fucker, I’m going to gut you.” the man’s brave words did little to cover the fear that was apparent in his every move. The knife he held in front of him was twitching, his eyes were wide and he was breathing as hard as of he had just run a hundred yard sprint.
Jack didn’t bother replying, he just smiled his best smile, a smile that displayed a row of teeth that would have made a shark jealous. He ran his tongue slowly across them, cutting it and leaving a trail of blood across the snow-white enamel.
The smell of piss reached his nose, and he watched a stain slowly spreading across his victim’s trousers. The knife clattered to the floor as nerveless fingers lost their grip.
“Please, please ..” the man raised his hands palms out towards Jack.
“Please? Well, as you ask so nicely.” Jack kicked his feet and shot into the man, carrying him back a good five feet. Even as they landed he was sinking is teeth into the man’s neck. As soon as he had a good purchase he shook his head back a forth, like a dog shaking its favourite toy. Hot, salty blood gushed into his mouth, his victim trying to scream but only succeeding in forcing out a wet gurgle. His heels drummed on the floor for a few seconds before going still.
Jack stood and stretched languidly, feeling the soul of the man entering the mask, making both it and him stronger. Casually he walked over to the other injured men, knelt down beside each in turn, and ripped their throats out.
Seeing a piece of chalk next to one of the crates, he walked over to a clear area of wall and hastily scrawled his signature ‘Justice is served.
Yes, Lord Edward might consider himself normal, but Jack? Jack was anything but.