Darren cursed and threw himself onto his belly as soil and debris shoot high up into the air, slamming him hard on the back. He gasped as a large rock collided with his helmet, feeling the flimsy metal dent and hurt his head.

"Shan!" Albert screamed across from where Darren lay in thick, stinking mud.

Looking up, Darren spied his Lieutenant-Colonel bleeding badly already, a piece of shell shrapnel embedded deeply into his shoulder blade. After serving for two years now, Darren had become accustomed to death, a glazed helpless stare that men with deep injuries and missing limps expressed before their bodies shut down. Albert certainly was no exception to this rule.

Grimacing slightly, Darren wormed across mud and goodness knows what else till he was at Albert's side. Saying little to his Battalion leader, Darren ripped off his Dog Tag and took out a small book from within his bloodied jacket. He checked Albert's boots, cursing that they were three sizes smaller than Darren's feet – the vampire's own shoes were leaking and too thin for running around in the mud of No Man's Land.

Snatching up Albert's pistol and rounds, he continued to worm onwards before finding his feet and charging forward at a determined pace.

It was hard going in the Trenches, particularly for a vampire. Darren was glad he had the luck of the vampires on board as almost every assault he had been on was performed under the cover of darkness, and he'd easy access to blood. Also, he had developed good friends with his battalion. Percy Cromwell, Robert Wilson, Jerry Saunders, William McGregor…all very British men for all over the United Kingdom. Percy, a Welsh man from the Valleys, was particularly close to Darren now and the two always had the others back since basic training.

Darren threw himself to the ground, landing face first in another muddy puddle. With a groan, he spat out pieces of upturned turf before standing with a pant to charge onwards.

Suddenly, as he stood, a bullet tore through his shoulder, causing him to stagger backwards and fall into a massive shell hole. He rolled backwards, bouncing before crashing into the muddy pit. He gasped, saturated in murky, stagnant water.

"Oh, Gods, Urghp!" he gagged, retching as he dragged himself out of the thick mud and clung to an even muddier embankment, staring hopelessly up at the top of the shell crater. If he crawled up now, he would be shot straight out. He would have to worm his way back to his own trench somehow.

"Lie down on your stomach right now," a deep, French accented voice boomed behind Darren. The vampire went to turn but the man spoke again, "No! I said that I want you to lie down. Do so now!"

Darren did as told, lying down flat out, "I am British!" he called, "My name is Darren Shan of the Highlander battalion. Please, do not shoot."


Darren nodded, "Aye! Darren Shan. I am a British soldier. I have been shot in the shoulder…I need to apply pressure. May I sit up?"

"Darren? It is me, Larten!"

Darren frowned and turned round, not recognizing the male in the muddy blue French uniform. He pulled off his hat and revealed a crop of brilliant orange hair, crusted down with mud, "Larten, Larten Crepsley? You remember? Seb-"

Darren threw himself at the other vampire, his shoulder burning as he hugged Larten tightly. Larten squeezed him back equally as hard, falling back and holding Darren on his lap tightly.

"I can't believe you're alive and here!" Darren grinned, getting off him and sitting to his left, a smile on his lips that was so bright it could have lit up the dark shell. "How did you get here?"

"Do you mean in this shell or in the War?" Larten asked with a laugh.

"Both I guess," Darren asked eagerly, "I want to know it all! Fuck No Man's Land!"

Larten was clearly taken back by Darren's cursing, raising an eyebrow, "Well, I fell in love. I am engaged to a human woman from Paris," he said as he pulled a photo of a very unusual looking woman. She wasn't unattractive but quirky, a 'How high?' sort of girl by the looks of her. Darren could imagine her in a kitchen in a farm house with hundreds of children running around wanting cakes.

"She's a beauty," Darren nodded, handing the photo back to Larten before taking a handkerchief from the vampire to stop the bleeding in his shoulder, "What's her name?"

"Alicia," Larten smiled, clearly smitten. "So I enlisted for her really. I did not want her to feel shame that her beau would not fight for her and the country,"

"But you're not French?" Darren pointed out.

"I feel more respected as a French male than a British one," Larten grinned before nudging Darren, "How about you? How did you end up in this mess of a War?"

Darren shrugged, "I dunno. I guess it was just for an adventure really. Wester's training to be a Mountain Guard, Seba's the new Quartermaster and Arra…well, she's a general now. Plus she mated."

Larten looked a little shocked at that, raising a eyebrow. He hadn't expected to be bothered that Arra would mate; especially now that he was happy living the twenty four hour human life…except, he did miss being a vampire now and again, particularly recently with the whole War thing.

"Oh? Who did she mate? Someone strong I presume,"

"Well, I guess he is in an emotional sense," Darren shrugged, "She actually mated Wester last Spring…"

"Wow," Larten mused. He hadn't been invited to Wester's mating which bothered him a little; why would he feel the need to hide such wonderful news like being mated to a woman he presumably loved?

"Yeah so you can see why I wanted to get out for a bit on my own," Darren nodded before clasping Larten's shoulder, "It's good to see you again, Larten. You look well."

"I feel it," Larten smiled, "I am to marry the woman I love, what else could I want?"

"Well, I would maybe want to get out of this hole…" Darren laughed as he lay back into the mud beside Larten and gazed up at the red night sky.

"There is talk of surrender," Larten mused, "Maybe, when we get out from here, I could take you to meet Alicia? I would appreciate the vampire company,"

"Deal," Darren grinned, amazed how much his luck had changed by merely being shot in the shoulder.

Just a short chapter tonight! I'll upload again soon!