When Chelsea had been told there was going to be a hunt in the tunnels under New York City, she’d created a mental picture of splashing through damp, dark sewer tunnels with flashlights.
While the air was uncomfortably damp and the walls shimmered with moisture, the floor was mostly dry and bright lights hummed on the ceilings as they passed through.
Jess chuckled from beside her. “Yeah, it shocked me the first time, too. But we aren’t going into the sewers exactly. We’ll be blocking an exit out of the sewers.”
Chelsea nodded, hand on her ax. “How close are we?”
Andy’s voice crackled through her earpiece. “Can’t be too long now.”
“About five hundred feet.” Jess rolled her eyes. “Can’t you track our phones?”
“Well, I can, but I’m currently trying to unravel Charlie’s latest nonsense and it’s taking up all my attention at the moment.”
Jess shared a smile with her. “I’ll let you know when we’re in place.”
Andy’s voice sounded tense and excited. “Please. I want this cleaned up as soon as possible.”
An unfamiliar voice cut in. “Hurry up, Jess. We got movement down here.”
A cacophony of voices sounded as people called out orders. Jess picked up her pace, and Chelsea needed no urging. Her anxiety upped another level when all the voices cut out suddenly.
“Everybody, get on your team channels. This is the general chat. I have no idea how any of you think you’re getting clear information.” Andy’s stern tone calmed her a little. “We’re starting early apparently, but we have a plan. Stick to it and stay alive. I’m still trying to figure out Charlie’s mess, so stay on top of each other.”
A chorus of apologies and confirmations answered him. Chelsea jogged in the damp, subterraneous twilight and her anxiety mellowed into pre-fight nerves.
Each pounding slap of their boots on concrete sounded unique to her as she counted the doors they passed. The details of the water-stained walls stood out clear. Jess reaching for her ax seemed to be a slow and deliberate act. So Chelsea did the same as a stench rose in the air.
They turned a corner, Jess in the lead still. The tunnel widened here, and an actual brook of sewer water flowed in front of her.
Breath heaving, Jess tapped her ear piece. “We’re in place.”
Andy said something, but Chelsea didn’t register the words. There was splashing coming from the water. “Something’s here and I don’t think it’s a rat.”
Jess stepped up beside her. “Shit, she’s right.”
Andy’s voice was a distraction that Chelsea didn’t need, so she ripped out her ear piece and pocketed it. A dark shape rose from the water. Mostly human-looking, if a built like a barrel, with overly large ears and all white eyes under it’s matted hair, the mole person moved sluggishly. Chelsea didn’t know if it was hurt or just tired, and she didn’t think there was time to find out.
She darted to the edge of the brown river and kicked for the monster’s head. Arms unfolded from the bulk of the creature’s body. It grabbed her foot with ease, stopping her kick midair.
Then the world tumbled upside down before she crashed into the cement wall. The shock of it knocked the breath from her lungs and the sense from her head as she crumpled to the floor.
Vision blurry and unable to breathe, Chelsea fought to her knees. Nausea threatened with every movement. She ignored it and tried to focus on the fight.
Jess was swinging at the mole person, but those long arms kept her ax at bay. They fought at a standstill for a few moments.
Then Jess took a step forward, right as the mole person swung. Chelsea saw it happening. She knew Jess was going to be hit, but all she could do was cry out as the blow landed.
She struggled to her feet as Jess went down, ignoring her screaming lungs and pounding head. Her ax wasn’t on hand, and Chelsea didn’t have the frame of mind to find it. Instead, she pulled out her knife. She hadn’t done much knife-fighting, only a few lessons from a friend, but it was better than no weapon at all.
Unsteady on her feet, she still managed a bellowed challenge at the mole person. The monster flinched as it turned to her, too-long arms up and ready for more action.
It took a few shuffling steps towards her and swung. Chelsea braced herself, knife out and ready for the impact.
A snarl rolled through the sewer moments before Bentley’s dark mass landed on the outstretched arm. The monster screamed and went down with her dog.
Still dazed, Chelsea stood frozen for a moment. Bentley savaged at the mole arm, stretching it out to full extension as he backed up.
The monster screamed again and yanked, pulling Bentley toward it. That motion unfroze her brain. Blade in hand, she darted over to the monster. With its attention on the dog, she easily slipped up behind it and shoved her knife into the monster’s neck.
The mole person screamed again and tugged on its captured arm, trying to turn toward Chelsea, flashing savage, broken, yellowed teeth.
It only managed to snap at the air in front of her before Jess’s ax took it on the other side of the neck, severing the spine. The mole person twitched and shook its way to the ground before lying still.
Jess collapsed to her knees with a wry look at Chelsea. “We’re safe, Andy.”
Rage flooded her as she pulled her ear piece out of her pocket. “How the fuck did my dog get here?” Bentley bounded over to her, tail wagging furiously.
Andy’s weak and relieved voice did nothing for her temper. “I had no idea he wasn’t here until Charlie called. Took me a while to understand what he was going on about, but Bentley showed up as he was leaving. I told him to bring Bent back here, but Charlie wouldn’t listen. Said the dog wasn’t going anywhere but after you.”
A winded and pale Charlie chose that moment to come around the corner. “Holy shit, he found you.”
Chelsea closed her eyes and sighed. Bentley pressed against her with a whine. “This is why I just bring him with me these days.”
Andy laughed. “I will never question the wisdom of doing so again. But we have another mole person headed your way.”
“Gotcha.” She opened her eyes and scratched at Bentley’s ears. “Good job, Bent.”
Pounding head be damned, there was still a fight to finish. Chelsea found her ax and headed for the edge of the sewer. Bentley pressed against her leg as he stood watch beside her.
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