“We got cats coming Gear. Six of them.”
“That isn’t all. Something weird too. You feel that?”
I reached out and felt, something. Something alien. Something horrible. Screaming for death with it’s mind. I nearly pissed myself from the onslaught. The brothers looked the same. I felt nauseated from the touch of this twisted mind and pulled back like burning a finger on the stove. You only touched the red hot coils once.
Then the sounds of the panthers went from predatory to… fearful? Despite my every impulse I began to rush forward. I needed to see this. John and his brothers initially held back, I could feel their disbelief in my action. I didn’t care. Whatever was down here was evil. I needed to know what it was. Needed to know what was loose in my city. When the adrenaline kicks in my powers tend to kick up a notch and I needed control so I did what John had taught me and turned invisible. I felt the shock from the brothers as I winked out of existence. Ultra stealth mode I guess. The walls of the tunnels were a blur as I ran, I was not even at top speed but I was flying. The sounds, now of battle were getting closer and closer.
Pain. Hatred. Terror. Waves of emotion like a battering ram against my brain as I turned corner and entered a cistern like room and skidded to a stop. Literally skidded on a slick of liquid. Full frontal assault on my senses. Blood. Viscera. Everywhere I looked was… pieces of animal and man. A jawbone sticking out of the wall caught my eye. Fear filled my every cell. It was like diving into a pool of the worst memories you have very had. Being drenched in horror. It was palpable, felt let me it was oozing out of the walls. In the seconds it took to run here six werepanthers were slaughtered. I carefully sureveyed the carnage. This is impossible. Nothing can kill six of anything like this and leave.
What if it hadn’t left? Could it still be in this cistern? I looked up at the high ceiling, dappled with shadows and angles in which to hide. There was that sense of malevolence still permeating the air. Hunger. As if the six corpses littering the walls and floor we’re not enough to satiate whatever lurked the tunnels. Seemed to be lurking here. Now. I felt the tendrils of thoughts pushing at the edges of my shield, trying to figure out if there was something there. I pulled into my mind and imagined a plastisteel barrier over my being. Perfectly round with no edges to grasp, no weakness to exploit. I looked for the attacker but there was nothing. The feeling of menace began to fade and as the oppressive blanket lifted I started to relax.
In time for giant octopus like creature to fall from the ceiling and begin to consume the bits of corpse decorating the floor. It was gelatinous, I think. Nearly see through and glowing with a lavender bioluminescence. My knowledge of aquatic monsters is not very strong but this fucking thing should not be on dry land. Definitely not in the sewer of a major city state eating the remains of six werepanthers.
“Gear, chill dude. That is Thuthu. It is cool,” John projected into my head.
“Thuthu? What the fuck is that?” I sent back.
The guys came into the room and Matt let out a long whistle at the gore. They were visible and seemed pretty calm. Or as calm as you can be when surrounded by torn apart creatures.
“Thuthu! Looks like you got some good grub here girl!” John shouted as he, I am not kidding, pet the thing.
“Thuthu is what keeps the underground clean. Didn’t you think it was strange how clean it is down here? She is one of the housekeeping service down here. You should have felt your mind when she dropped down. Fucking hilarious man.”
I stared at Thuthu. It did seem to be calm and happily cleaning the cistern. If this wasn’t the thing that killed the weres, what was?
“What is she?”
“She is the underground janitor. Rising Sun made her and her sisters to keep the tunnels clean. Some kind of bioengineered thingy.”
“What the fuck is going on down here? Whole neighborhoods hidden behind high tech. Roaming bands of weres. And what the hell slaughtered the panthers Thuthu is munching on? Why is none if this public knowledge?”
“Calm down there Gear. There is a lot of funky shit going down in the city. You haven’t even seen the strange shit yet. And that thing that killed them weres? That is the second time we have felt it. Rumor has it there is a bunch of experiments that got loose and live down here.”
Matt sent out the image if the lizard person again and Clayton slapped him in the back of the head.
John looked at the jaw in the wall for a second and said, “We need to get out of here in case that thing is still hanging out. I don’t want to be next. Bye Thuthu.”
Thuthu didn’t seem to care that we were leaving, just went about slurping up the pieces. I stared at her for a long moment and decided to snap a pic. No one was going to believe this without proof. Then we headed out towards Deep Ellum, a speed to our movement not there before.
I don’t know if I will ever sleep again. What in the hell do we all live above? And where are you Rae? I’m coming for you. I think.
— — —
We made it with no other excursions or blood curdling terrors to Deep Ellum. We popped up through a sewer grate in a back alley to find night had fallen and the sky was aglow with flickering neon and occasional over white neon. I led the guys through the filthy streets and through the last couple blocks of restaurants and shady shops. It felt good to get out under the sky again, even if it was coated in the haze of city life. For as much pain and shit this place has caused me, I could not imagine anywhere else being home. We made slow going down the street as the brothers stared at everything. I forgot they spent most of their lives hiding underground or in that mall. It must be amazing to them to see so much so quickly.
“Kind of a shit hole up here,” John noted. “Why is it so dirty and loud? You would think as much creds as they spend to keep the sewers clean they would spend it up here too.”
“Harder to clean up an area with so many people I guess,” I replied rather sullenly. “I hear the other districts are kept up better. This is East Side and we don’t get the special care other places need.”
“So you prefer to live on n filth. Got it.”
“Fuck you John. You can go back to Hot Topic and wait out the werewolf death squad if you want.”
“It ain’t that bad I guess.”
“That’s what I thought too. And this gentleman is where I call home,” I pronounced as we stood outside of Our Bar. Matt and Clayton sent out images of cold beer and ladies. Two things they we’re going to be surely disappointed in.
I opened the door and ushered them in. “Hey Brad,” I called and he looked at me and my companions and froze for a moment then signalled for me to come to the back. The guys took up residence at my normal table as I followed him to the back.
“Hey Gear, I hate to tell you but you have three guys and not one eight year old girl with you.”
I filled him in on the entire trip. He stared at me and let me finish before looking perplexed and walking over to a terminal in the wall.
“Thuthu? And an entire hidden neighborhood?”
“Two blocks I could see. And that holo tech was out.of this world. I couldn’t find the projector anywhere.”
He extended a cable from the terminal and plugged it into my outfit in a port I didn’t even notice was there. “What the fuck?” I exclaimed. “Am I wearing spyware for you?”
“This is just to get the readings from the environments. It has other, umm, capabilities but I figured we should talk them over before I activated any of them. You were in a hurry. This wolf, Cortney? What was his goal?”
“He said it was to protect the guys out there. I don’t know, he could have killed us easily with his pack but he sent them off elsewhere.”
“Maybe. Don’t know. I have not had a good track record with the Pride so far.” I watched the terminal as the data was extracted. It meant nothing to me. “What does this tell you?”
“Nothing until I can compare it with normal underground levels. I will have a subroutine running while out there. These, mental vamps, what do you think?”
“I like them. They need protection and I was hoping they could crash here for a bit.”
He looked at me and nodded once. “They can have my room, not like I need one. I have extra cots downstairs. You sure about them? They seem off.”
“Oh, that they are. But not in a bad way. At least not so far.”
“They are packing a lot of firepower in those bags.”
“I will have them put them in the room. Thanks Brad. You keep bailing me out. One day…”
Brad and I walked back out into the bar and I grabbed a pitcher of beer for the guys and a bottle for me. Brad came over with three glasses and to introduce himself properly.
“John, Matt, Clayton,” he said with a nod. “Nice to meet you gentlemen.”
“Nice to meet you Mr Capini. Gear has had nothing but could things to think about you.”
He looked at them carefully, the occasional flashes of blue across his eyes. John’s wording about what I think all too clear in it’s meaning. Finally he nodded. “You gentlemen can sleep in the room upstairs. You will be expected to work here helping out. We will figure out how later. We all have secrets and I assume we shall keep them. Deal?”
The guys nodded happily. “Deal. Thanks. You got any Pantera music in here?”
Brad’s eyes flashed blue again and buzzsaw guitar sounds came from speakers I wasn’t even aware of. The guys eyes got huge and they whooped and hollared and poured beers. I have to say it wasn’t bad. A little aggressive but not too bad at all. I won’t lie but I had no idea what a Cowboy from Hell was but they enjoyed it.
“Fuck you, you fat cow!” came a scream at another table. One of the regulars, a total knob was in his wife’s face yelling. He is an angry asshole that no one really likes but his creds are good. Usually he leaves the wife at home and just complains about her. She turned bright red and the tears started flowing.
“If you were man enough you would do something about it yourself!” she screamed back.
Brad was about to walk over when John placed his hand on his shoulder. Matt stood up and walked over and put his hands on their shoulders. Instantly they calmed down. The husband, Rod, stood up and limped to the bar and announced he was buying a round for the house. And that he was getting a divorce as he realized his erectile dysfunction had caused him to treat his wife terribly over the years. No one cheered louder than her at these words.
Brad looked at us all and said, “This could be the start of something special gentlemen,”
We got incredibly drunk and Brad played heavy metal music the rest of the night. All in all it was a horrific day with a nice ending.