The pack waded up a river of shit and filth. Beshilu and other rats swarmed the sewers in Chinatown and gnawed at the gauntlet. The wall was thin here, but I could sense no Loci nearby. Perhaps there was still time to prevent a breach between the spirit realm and physical world. The Rat Catchers asked us to assist them with this emergency. Their pack was not as strong as ours; they were lucky to have our help. Such thoughts were fleeting as the nauseating smells permeated the air and stung my sensitive nose.
The Risen Phoenix, my new pack, were all wolf-men right now. I do not often take Dalu form but this shape allowed me to use the equipment that I carried and still defend myself. I considered a partial change – the stench would not assault a human nose so harshly.
As we made our way against the current, a distant rumble echoed through the tunnel. A lot of water was rushing towards us. “We’re about to be flooded out,” I hollered at everyone. Before we had time to turn downstream, a wall of filthy water slammed against us and drove us downstream with brute force. The smooth, metallic flashlight flew from my clumsy, claw-like hands in the chaos. The thunderous sound of the rushing water amplified and repeated as it echoed off the brick sewer walls.
The curious sensation of falling through the air barely registered in my mind as we fell over a waterfall and quickly thereafter slammed against a metal grate at the bottom of the falls. Groans of pain came from all directions and I knew that my pack mates were still nearby. Ian, our pack Alpha, was the first to light the way with his flash light. Soon he and Slade were surveying the room. Abby was limping, still sore from our last fight with the Beshilu; we had been down here, hunting the were-rats for hours. My flashlight was the only one missing; a fact that I knew would be mentioned later. I hated being on probationary status as a new packmember.
Two closed doors faced off from opposite sides of the room. “Let’s go this way and see what’s behind this door,” Ian said, gesturing towards one of the doors. I was feeling particularly defiant at this moment, perhaps due to wounded pride over the lost flashlight. I had proven my ability to track ahead well enough so far during this mission and felt that I could handle myself.
As I headed towards the other door, I could hear the sound of another werewolf approaching from behind. Slade attempted to grab me and take me back towards the other door which Ian and Abby were in the process of opening. “We need to stick together,” he growled as I reversed his grapple and immobilized him. Before the conflict could begin, we heard Abigail crying out that we had more Beshilu to deal with. Ian and Abby were facing a large, horse-sized rat in the other doorway.
Slade and I dropped our conflict for the moment as we rushed to assist our packmates. Past the huge rat-thing, we could see several more of the terrible creatures in the room beyond a hallway. This was going to be another tough fight.
Death Whisperer, our totem, fought some rat spirits on his side of the gauntlet. I peeked over at the shadow for a brief second to check on him. He seemed to be struggling. There was nothing to be done about it, he was on the other side of the wall and there was no Locus nearby to cross through.
Abby stepped back, letting Slade get up close and personal with the large Beshili. Ian and Slade were tearing into it pretty well. A swarm of smaller rats assaulted Abby and myself. We fought them off as best we could. As the fight continued, I sensed Death Whisperer leaving. He was hurt badly and fleeing from his fight. This realization sent panic through me as our totem was strong and only very fierce opponents could defeat him.
The next few minutes were a blurr. I had been fighting alongside Abby when that deep internal rage welled up inside me. I could not even recall was set me off. The anger, hatred, ferocity and feral nature of my werewolf self took over and I felt myself transform into the largest and most brutal form of werewolf, the Gauru. As a Gauru in such a frenzied state, I lost control. Images of the rats that I had slain flashed through my red, pulsing vision. Somewhere in the bloody strobe-like view, Abigail appeared. Conscious of the fact that was I fought a packmate, an injured packmate who was more spiritualist than fighter, I growled out in frustration. There was no stopping the attack.
There were no more rats to kill but I could smell and hear werewolves on the far of the now closed door. I savagely clawed at the door and broke through. Another door blocked the other end of the hallway. Frustration set in as I could not reach my prey and my breathing began to slow down.
After I caught my breath, I let my pack know that I was under control now. When I was reunited with them, I could see the disappointment in Abigail’s face. She was very badly hurt. Instead of protecting her, I had turned against her. As we pressed onward in the Sewers to find The Rat Catchers, I contemplated how much I hated being a perpetual failure.