Disclaimers: This story takes place during Territory. You might want to read that first, or re-read it again if it’s been a while. These characters are all mine; please ask before taking them out to play. This story has werewolves, vampires and things that go bump in the night. If this bothers you, why are you reading a Halloween special story? Comments or criticisms go to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cameron Wolfe stood on the tarmac at SFO and watched the fog bank roll down the hillside towards the airport like a slow moving avalanche. She hoped the rest of her team showed up before it actually moved in and delayed their takeoff.
She sensed her friend and business partner, Jared Fitzsimons come up to stand next to her and also watch the marine layer roll in. He took a few audible sniff’s for show, then commented “Nice shirt you’re wearing.” He said with a smile in his voice.
Cameron could feel her ears redden slightly, but she refused to look at him. “Jessica likes wearing my t-shirts.” She muttered.
“And of course, you just happened to grab that same t-shirt to wear under your sweater for a business trip out of town.”
The redhead looked down at her scuffed hiking boots, worn brown cargo pants, the stretched out green cableknit sweater, and the aforementioned white Giants t-shirt that hung out from under the waistline of the sweater. “It was on the top of the pile.” She defended herself weakly.
Jared snorted. “Admit it. It smells like her so you like wearing it. You’re hooked.” He made a little whirring sound, like a lame attempted to imitate a fishing line casting.
“I don’t remember giving you this much shit when you started dating Katrina.” She groused.
“I do.” Stated Jared. “And payback is a bitch.”
“Oh look, the rest of the team is here.” Cameron pointed out unnecessarily at the three people who were loaded down with gear bags headed their way.
“Oh good, they can join in on the fun.” Exclaimed Jared happily.
Cameron shot him an evil look, which Jared was immune to. Cameron was a tall woman, but Jared stood 6’6 in his stocking feet and was built like a brick wall. He had thick, brown hair that was pulled back in a neat pony tail, and a long goatee that rivaled anything the guys from ZZ Top could manage. He looked like a scary biker dude, and Cameron had seen him pick up a muscle car in a fit of frustration and put it on a car trailer. A muscle car that had been modified to run electric so it had a massive battery pack inside of it. She had scolded him for his actions, pointed out that if he was having trouble getting the car on the trailer, he should have come and asked for help instead of picking the damn thing up. He merely shrugged and pointed out that his way was quicker.
The rest of Cameron’s team walked quickly across the tarmac toward Conner Wolfe’s private jet. The equipment they had in their gear bags was not anything that they wanted TSA to get a look at, so when the team had to travel outside the Bay Area, Conner offered the use of his jet. Cameron and Jared climbed aboard while the other three loaded their gear.
Clifford, the last man aboard, was just bucking his seat belt, when the pilot started moving the plane down the runway. Angela, a short blonde with a mass of curly hair, turned to her boss with a raised eyebrow. “I take it something very bad happened and we are on our way to clean it up.” She stated. “Usually we get more of a heads up than this, and Caleb usually waits for the door to shut completely before taxing down the runway.”
Cameron let out a deep breath. “The Seattle team is gone.” She stated quietly. “Donovan Birch has asked for help to deal with whatever has taken out his team.” The others sat in stunned silence. Each pack had a tactical team to take care of the things that went bump in the night. Werewolves were not nearly the scariest things out there. Cameron led the tactical team for the San Francisco pack, and had trained most of the teams in the Pacific Northwest, so the loss of the Seattle team was personal.
“What the hell happened?” asked Clifford, stunned at the news.
“There has been vampire sightings in the downtown area, and Birch has reported that a number of homeless and street kids have gone missing. Enough that even the mundane authorities have taken notice.” Cameron itched to pull out her laptop, but the plane was still ascending and Caleb got grouchy when she turned on her electronics before he hit altitude. “The team made a foray into the Underground, from a private entrance to the sealed off, non touristy part. They didn’t come back out, and the pack assures me that this is not a rescue mission.” Meaning that the entire pack had felt the team die through the pack link.
“As you can see, Dayle isn’t with us.” Dayle Whitehouse was the team’s mage, and it was unusual that the woman wasn’t accompany them. “Apparently,” and Cameron got a wry look on her face. “Dayle had a bit of misunderstanding with the local mage Guild, and is not allowed in Seattle. At all.”
“Even for this?” Angela was incredulous. “Even the mages aren’t stupid enough to allow a vampire incursion if they can help it.”
“The Guild understands our reluctance to leave our mage behind, but they are providing us with a competent combat mage to fill in the hole in our team. They lost a mage on the Seattle team and are looking for payback as well, but they won’t budge on letting Dayle into their territory.”
“I wonder what she did to piss them off that bad?” mused Jared as he stroked his goatee.
“It’s Dayle,” Clifford laughed. “It could have been any number of things.” Dayle was a excellent combat mage, and worked well with Cameron’s team. But she had a few personality quirks that made her difficult to deal with outside of a life or death situation. And her sense of humor boarded on the bizarre.
“Also,” she looked around her team. “we will have a representative from the Salish Coast Tribe with us for as long as we are in Seattle.” The rest of the team looked puzzled.
“What for?” asked Angela.
“Whenever a scion of the House of Wolfe,” Cameron rolled her eyes, “is in their territory, they must be accompanied by a member of the Salish Coast Tribe at all times.”
“But we’ve never had to be escorted in Seattle,” pointed out Jared. “Vancouver, yes. Seattle, no.”
“Apparently, they are asserting their claim over Seattle so we get an escort.” She held up her hands. “It’s local politics, and we aren’t getting involved. Just smile and be polite. And try to keep our escort alive.”
“Great, so we get to go running around the condemned portion of the Seattle Underground, with a untested combat mage, a civilian, chasing something that has wiped out an entire tactical team.” Angela grumbled.
The plane landed at SeaTac and taxied over to the private hangers. As the team disembarked and started unloading their gear, a dark grey Tahoe LTZ pulled up and a young werewolf jumped out of the driver’s seat. A young Native American man followed more slowly from the passenger side.
“Cameron Wolfe?” the young man addressed Clifford, who had reddish brown hair like Cameron, but was a couple of inches shorter than the Alpha.
“Nope,” grunted Clifford, as he lifted a heavy bag down from the plane. He jerked his head towards where Cameron and Jared were organizing the gear. “That’s her, over there.”
“Cameron’s a girl?” blurted out the young Were.
“Cameron is a woman,” corrected the team leader. “And Cameron is over here.”
“And Cameron is talking in the third person.” Quipped Angela, who was kneeling down and checking her bags as well. Cameron used her foot to shove the blonde on her ass.
“Are you from the local pack?” she asked the nervous young man. He nodded.
“I’m Scott Burt. Donovan Birch sent me to pick you up.”
“Can you help my team get their gear in the SUV?” Scott grabbed some bags and walked over to the back of the SUV, not wanting to say anything else and put his foot further in his mouth.
“And you must be our escort.” Cameron addressed the other occupant of the car. She stuck her hand out in greeting. “I’m Cameron Wolfe.”
The young, Native American glanced down at Cameron’s hand and didn’t take it, instead he shot her a look of utter loathing. The other Weres growled at the insult to their Alpha.
“Settle down now,” the redhead said quietly. “He’s entitled to his own opinion.” She put her hand down. “Can I at least get your name? In case I have to yell out a warning or something. ‘Hey you,’ is rather generic.”
“Kosumi Bluewater.” He said coldly.
Cameron raised her eyebrows at his hostility. “Let me introduce my team. This is Jared Fitzsimons, my second in command.” Jared gave a little wave, and continued to check the gear before it got loaded up in the SUV. “This is Angela McCormick.” She pointed to the blonde who was putting the last of her bags in the back. Angela merely glared at him. “Clifford Horton,” Clifford grunted and kept working. “The chatterbox over there is Robby Burns.” The bald man with the impressive mustache jumped down from the small cargo area where he had been handing gear down to Clifford and secured the hatch before climbing in the SUV with the others. “I’m sure we’re all going to be firm friends.” Cameron smiled, showing a lot of teeth before climbing in the passenger seat, leaving Kosumi to get in the back with the other team members or get left on the tarmac. He climbed in the back with the others after a moments hesitation, and burned holes into the back of the redheads neck.
The drive from SeaTac up the 5 into Seattle proper was a quiet, tense affair. The unwarranted hostility radiating from Kosumi towards Cameron had the team’s teeth on edge, and Scott just wished he was anywhere else than in a SUV with a bunch of pissed off, highly trained werewolves. Cameron seemed immune to it all as she checked her phone for messages. She got a goofy smile on her face that didn’t go unnoticed by Jared.
“Get a message from Jessica?” he asked.
Cameron scowled. “Shut up.”
“Who’s Jessica?” asked Angela and Clifford almost in unison.
“Cameron’s new girlfriend.” Gleefully supplied Jared.
“Is that who I smell on her?” asked Robby for the first time.
“When did this happen?” demanded Angela. “Was this the girl you took to the dinner?”
“Yep,” responded Jared happily as Cameron sunk lower in her seat and pretended to ignore her team.
“So Raj can come out of hiding because I’m off escort duty?” Angela clapped her hands in glee. “He’ll be thrilled.”
“Escort duty?” Scott blurted out.
“Cameron has to attend social functions with a date. Since she’s single,”
“And rich.” Broke in Clifford.
“Loaded.” Confirmed Robby.
“One of San Francisco’s hottest bachelors.” Added Jared. Cameron continued to sink lower and lower in the seat.
“I pretend to play her girlfriend.” Finished Angela. “Since the ‘Sharon’ incident anyway. So my husband Raj has to lay low while I pretend to be infatuated with San Fran’s most eligible bachelor.”
“You’re married to a man and you pretend to be dating her?” Kosumi’s words dripped with scorn.
“I don’t remember asking you to join the conversation.” Rumbled Jared dangerously.
“You started the conversation with me in the car.” Shot back the young man, but all the Weres could smell nervous sweat starting to come from him.
“I can put you on the roof rack with the rest of the gear.” Jared growled, his normally gentle brown eyes flashing amber.
“Enough.” Cameron’s voice cut through the car with enough power behind it that no one argued. Jared sat back, his eyes back to normal. The rest of the ride was quiet.
Scott finally pulled up behind Fenrir’s Tattoos, a popular tattoo shop just off of Occidental Park in the Waterfront District. Donovan Birch was a successful tattoo artist and owner of Fenrir’s Tattoos. Cameron was always amused by this. Shape shifters usually didn’t bother with tattoos, seeing as how every time they shifted, the tattoo was lost. Birch had been working with local mages to modify inks to produce magical tattoos that would stay under the skin through shifts with moderate success. Birch himself finally resorted to branding with silver branding irons to keep his body art.
It was full dark now, so the shop was busy. Birch excused himself from his customers when he saw them come in and waved them upstairs to his office and living area.
Donovan’s living room was a large open room with couches and benches pushed along the walls to accommodate lots of bodies. The room was empty now except for Donovan, Moira his mate, and Cameron’s team. Cameron pulled Birch into a hug.
“Comhbhrón ó mo chroí leat” she said in his ear. “Beidh íocaíocht”
“There is not enough blood in the world to pay back for what was taken from me.” He said roughly as he squeezed Cameron hard. He pulled away slightly and looked her in the eye, his own were bloodshot. “It’s good you are here.”
“My father sends his regrets, but he’s dealing with some issues in Oakland that need his personal attention. He and my mother will attend the wake this weekend.” Donavan stepped back and wiped his eyes. Moira ducked under his arm and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Sean is setting up a trust for the families and will be sending the paperwork to you to administer the trust.” She continued quietly. Jared stepped up and handed Cameron a bag. She pulled out a bottle full of amber liquid with a label written in Gaelic. “From my father’s personal distillery in County Mayo.” She handed the bottle to Donovan.
“It’s too late tonight to head into the tunnels,” said Seattle’s pack leader. “But I’ve posted scouts around the square to keep watch for the vamps. Tonight, we remember the brothers and sister we lost.”
More of Birch’s pack entered the apartment carrying the gear from the Tahoe. “We’ll get you situated, and any information you need, you just ask.”
Cameron nodded, and then indicated for Jared to show the local werewolves where to put the stuff in the other room.
“What happened?” she asked. “My father couldn’t give me much in details before I flew up.”
Donovan walked over and sat down on one of the couches while Moira grabbed some glasses and joined him. He opened the bottle and poured a healthy swig into each of them and handed Cameron one. “Slainte!” he said and downed his glass. He was echoed by Cameron and Moira.
“We noticed that the homeless and the street kids that normally hang around were restless and uneasy. So we did some poking around and found out that there had been some disappearances. We use them like a canary in a coal mine.” He stated bluntly. “Any big bad coming through is going to prey on them first, because who notices a disappeared homeless person or two.” Cameron nodded. They monitored the homeless and street kids in the Bay Area for the same reasons. “We got some reports that indicated that some vamps had probably been behind the disappearances, so Patrick took the team down into the Underground via the entrance under the shop to get to the condemned spaces. The city has the non tourist areas pretty well blocked off except for the entrances through the private businesses.” Donovan stopped and stared at the liquid in his glass. When it looked he wasn’t going to continue, Moira took up the narrative.
“None of us like going into the Underground,” she stated with her slight Irish accent. “Wolves just don’t do well under the earth, which is probably why the suckers like to hide down there. Gives them the advantage. Patrick took his team down there and we lost radio contact with them after a while.” She shook her head. “Nothing that transmits will work down there for very long, too much interference. We know that they ran into something really bad, because it took them out so quickly. We felt their terror and pain, then we felt nothing.”
“I sealed off the entrances that I could to the area the mages say their Guild mate died, but I won’t send anyone else down there to check out what happened.” He looked up at Cameron with tears running down his face. “They were my best, and whatever happened took them out in a matter of minutes. I won’t lose any more of my pack down there, Ceann cath. I don’t have the personnel that Conner has, which is why I look to him as leader instead of Yvgenie directly.” He said referring to the head of all the packs of North America.
“I’ll avenge your brother, Pack leader.” Said Cameron quietly. “Patrick was my friend too.” She patted his leg comfortingly. “What can you tell me about the mage the Guild is sending with us?”
“They aren’t letting you take Dayle down there?” Birch asked in confusion. “I thought she was just off paying respects to the Guild, I didn’t realize she hadn’t even come.”
“Apparently, Dayle was being Dayle and is not allowed in Seattle anymore.” Cameron made a face. “I have no idea what happened and the Guild and Dayle aren’t talking. They offered to send us a combat mage as a replacement.”
Donovan rubbed his chin in thought, then looked at his wife. “You don’t suppose they are sending Neo?” he asked her. She looked shocked.
“Neo as in the goth boy with all the piercings?” she clarified. She worked in Fenrir’s Tattoos as the resident piercer so that was the kind of thing she noticed first.
“Yeah, that one. He reeks of magic, almost as strongly as Gabe does…did.” He corrected.
“He also smells of spray paint and pot.” murmured Moira.
“Fabulous.” sighed Cameron.
“If it were anyone else going down there Ceann cath, I’d be throwing a bigger fit.” He grinned. “Besides, if something happens to you, there would be no place on earth they could hide from your parents.”
“Glad I have your full confidence.” Cameron said dryly.
“I’ve seen your father in a temper before. There wasn’t enough left of that fool to put in a bucket.” Responded Birch. “And your mother…” he shuddered. “The mage Guild bends over backwards to not offend her.”
“If that was true, then I’d have Dayle with me.” Groused the redhead, taking another drink.
The talk turned to lighter things, and more of Donovan’s pack drifted in. More bottles appeared, and an instrument here and there, and finally a full ceilidh was going on at the apartment.
Donovan, Moira, Cameron and Jared had finally achieved that perfect state of extremely mellow but not yet rip roaring drunk when Moira finally asked about Cameron’s new girlfriend.
“Her name is Jessica.” Cameron stated with the carefulness of someone trying not to slur their words.
“And she’s hot.” Added Jared sagely.
“Who’s pack is she from?” ask Moira, curious as to who had finally caught Cameron’s eye.
“She’s human.” Mumbled Cameron.
“What!” exclaimed Donovan. “A human?”
“So do you bite her to make her like you?” came a voice from behind Cameron. She whirled around too fast and Jared put out a hand to steady her. She glared at Kosumi.
“Are you mad? If a human caught the retrovirus from any kind of Were it would kill them.” She said a bit too loudly. “You’ve been watching too many movies. Were’s are born, not made.”
“So werewolves don’t make more werewolves?” clarified Kosumi.
There were hoots of laughter from around the room. “Of course we do,” laughed Donovan. “We just do it the same way humans make more humans. One baby at a time.”
“But werewolves can’t infect people and make them werewolves or… skinwalkers?” the younger man pressed on.
The laughter quickly died. “No, skinwalkers are First Nations magic. We had nothing to do with them.” Said Cameron. “We come from a different line of magic.”
“What line?” challenged Kosumi. “Gaelic?”
“That’s a fair guess, seeing the representation around the room.” Moira had stepped in before one of the two Alphas responded to the human’s aggressive behavior like they would handle a young pack member. “We actually trace our lines back further, to the Old Norse and the berserkers. The Irish werewolves come from the old Viking settled areas in Ireland, the Russian wolves come from the Viking Rus that followed the Volga down to Kiev. So basically, the two main groups of werewolves are Russian and Irish.”
“But I thought you said they were originally Norse?”
“The only ones to survive the Vampire purges in the 11th Century were strong holds in Ireland and Russia.” growled Donovan. “And I think you need to drink more, and ask less questions.”
Kosumi understood that the subject was closed, and retreated to the other side of the room.
“Who is that guy?” asked Moira, rubbing her mate’s arm to calm him down before he did something violent.
“Salish escort.” Grunted Cameron as she took a swig from the bottle of Blue label she had magically produced from somewhere.
“Ah, say no more.” Grunted Donovan as he snagged the bottle from Cameron and took a swig. “That’s why I love drinking with you, Camshaft. You can afford the best booze.”
The next morning, a pounding on the apartment door woke up an apartment full of hung-over werewolves.
“I’m coming, keep your shirt on!” hollered Birch as he stepped through the obstacle course of recovering werewolves strewn about his apartment.
He flung open the door and took in the spectacle that was Cameron’s loaner combat mage. He had indeed guessed correctly that the Guild would send Neo, an up and coming journeyman to accompany the San Francisco team into the Underground. At his door stood a gangly young man dressed all in black; black leather trench coat, black leather pants, black Underarmor tech shirt with a high collar, black sunglasses, dyed black hair, black fingernail polish, and black mascara which was revealed when Neo pushed his sunglasses up on top of head to eye the Pack Leader more closely. “My shirt is right where it’s supposed to be, but I can’t say the same for yours.” He commented, eyeing the intricate designs Donovan had branded into his chest and arms in lue of the tattoos he so dearly loved. “We are planning an excursion to the Underground today?” he questioned as he passed the Pack Leader who motioned for the mage to come inside.
“Just giving our own a bit of a send off.” Growled Donovan as he shut the door and stomped through the living room as his pack quickly made a path towards the kitchen and the holy coffee pot. He waved in Cameron’s general direction as he passed her on the trek to the kitchen. “This is Cameron. You’ll be going with her. ”
Cameron stood up and stretched after untangling herself from where she had curled up with her team. Werewolves were pack creatures, and in times of high emotion, touching was a sign of reassurance and love. The young loved to pile together in large ‘puppy piles’ and the grown ups sometimes found comfort in the same way.
“I’m Cameron Wolfe.” She stuck out her hand and was rewarded with a firm handshake.
“I’m Neo.” He grinned “I was expecting someone more… male.”
“I get that a lot. I was expecting someone less… goth.” Responded Cameron.
“I get that a lot. I promise, I’m the best you are going to get in Seattle.” Angela snorted. He shot her a look. “Granted, I’m not up there with the Guild leaders, but they do ritual magic, which is very powerful, but takes a lot of time, planning and ingredients. I’m more of the do it on the fly kind of guy.” He smiled at his alliteration.
“Good. Go get your stuff, while we get some breakfast and break out our gear.”
Neo patted his black messenger bag that was camouflaged by all the other black on his body. “I got everything I need right here. I’m ready to go.” He sniffed the air as the sound of coffee being ground reached his ears. Everyone else in the room was wincing or covering their ears. “Or I will be after some of that coffee.”
“Okay, everyone that doesn’t live here or isn’t going with Cameron get out.” Called Moira as she emerged from the hallway that led down to the bedrooms. Ignoring the groans and whines that came from the group, she chivvied the pack out in the bright autumn morning. She stood in the middle of the room glaring at the pack until they all left, a sight to see in her yellow tank top and pink bunny pajama bottoms.
“David,” she called down the hallway. A teenager poked his head out of one of the bedrooms. “Get dressed and go down to the market and buy a couple of pounds of bacon, 2 dozen or so eggs, and a couple of bags of hashbrowns.” She eyed Jared and Robby. “Might as well grab some donuts and cinnamon rolls too.” She walked over to her purse and pulled some money out in time for a blur to run by, grab the money and disappear out the door. “He just found his turbo setting.” She explained and walked back to her bedroom.
The coffee was ready, and David was back with breakfast supplies. The team plus Kosumi, who had materialized once the smell of cooking bacon had permeated where ever he had hidden himself, sat around eating and looking at the most recent maps of the Underground.
“The Guild figures that Gabe was right about here when he went down.” Neo circled an area on the map.
“How do they know that?” asked Kosumi.
“Because he expended a great deal of power when he went down.” Said Neo dryly.
“Ok, we are going to follow this route down to that area,” said Cameron drawing a path on the map with her finger. “On the way, we are going to set up here, here, and here as safe fallback positions.” She pointed out areas that looked like they could be pretty defensible. “We’ll have a clearer picture when we go down there, but if all hell breaks loose, we run back to the closest fallback position.” She looked at her team to make sure they understood that she was serious. “No cowboying.” She glared at Clifford.
“After Gabe’s death, the Guild did some scrying, and they feel that this area here,” he pointed out an area not too far from the Aquarium, “might be where the vamps have their lair. They don’t know that for 100% positive, but there is a big blank space there, so it definitely has something that someone doesn’t want seen.”
“Okay,” Cameron rolled up the map and stood up. She was wearing extra baggy cargo shorts, a wife beater and a loose Hawaiian shirt open down the front. On her feet she had Baffin slip ons. The rest of the team was dressed similarly, except Robby, who had forgone a shirt completely, showing off an impressively muscled chest. Repeated shifting between forms used up a lot of energy, so most werewolves had low body fat content.
The team strapped or carried weapons, mostly of the bladed variety, though Cameron had slung a pool cue bag over her head and shoulders and Jared had what looked like a softsided guitar case slung across his back. All of them carried an additional gear bag in one hand, and picked up one side of a Pelican case in the other. Donovan led the way down to the basement and the entrance to the Underground, with Cameron following him. Jared and Robby followed with their case, and then Angela and Clifford behind them. Neo and Kosumi brought up the rear, with Kosumi carrying the backpack with all the food and water supplies.
The Pack Leader led the group over to a large metal door with all kinds of glyphs written all over the front. The door smelled strongly of magic, and Cameron kept catching glimpses of magic out of the corners of her eyes, indicating the basement was heavily warded against attack. Donovan did something to the door, causing the magical locks to release and the door to swing open. There was a gust of air, as the slight pressure differential equalized, and the dark opening loomed before them.
“Lock it up behind us.” Said Cameron, staring into the darkness. “We’ll find another way out. Or not.”
“Good luck and good hunting Ceann cath,” said Birch as he shut the door behind them.
“What is up with that key kay name?” asked Kosumi after a moment, while everyone else turned on the LED lights they had slipped over their heads by way of an elastic sweatband. Neo sneered at the thought of putting something on that might mess up his hair and simply conjured a floating blue witchlight.
“It’s Gaelic for War Leader.” Responded Clifford. “It’s a title of respect, so why don’t you show some?”
“Just asking,” mumbled the younger man.
“I’m wondering how you got assigned werewolf babysitting duty without even have studied a Cliff Notes version of Werewolf 101.” Retorted Angela. “I mean really. You are locked underground with us, while we hunt vampires, and you seem bound and determined to piss us all off! If this was a horror movie, what do you think your life expectancy would be?” He turned white. “Exactly. How about you rein in the undeserved hostility until at least we all get out of this alive.”
The part of the Seattle Underground that the team had entered was definitely in the section that had not been remodeled for the tourist trade. In the late 19th Century, there was a big fire in Seattle that burned down most of the buildings in this part of town. The two things that came about from the city planners after the fire was that all buildings be made of brick or stone, and that the city engineers decided to raise the street level one story off the ground. The streets were raised because the area constantly flooded, and the store owners made the second story their main level, leaving their first story as basement property. The sidewalks were left at ground level, forcing pedestrians to climb ladders or stair cases to get into the shops. The pedestrians were also in danger of cargo from the raised street falling down onto the sidewalk. It was especially hazardous for drunks, because to cross the street, you had to climb a ladder, cross, then climb down another one. After several deaths, bridges were made between storefronts and the street, then the bridges were connected and paved over. The area underneath the new sidewalks was never filled in, creating interconnecting tunnels between basements under the street.
The tunnels were never maintained, and in 1907, the area was condemned due to pneumonic plague. This allowed the illegal gambling halls, speakeasies, opium dens, and flophouses to flourish literally underground.
In the 60’s, a small portion of the Underground was restored and made safe for historic tours. This was not the part of the Underground the team had accessed from the basement of Fenrir’s Tattoos. The floor of this tunnel was buckled, where the mudflats and sawdust fill had compacted at different rates. Debris and trash from another time littered the floor, and the footprints from Patrick’s team were easy to follow in the thick layer of dust. Cameron led the group forward, following the footsteps with gear bag in one hand and an odd lantern in the other.
The smell was awful; another part of the reason that the streets had been raised a level was because at high tide, the toilets would back flow, which was painfully obvious from the smell. A rotting wooden water main ran sporadically across their path, adding to the aroma. After about 15 minutes of following Patrick’s path, Cam waved her team into a room with an old bathtub in the corner.
“Set up the first fallback position here.” She said as she dropped her gear bag. The other team members dropped their bags and started pulling out gear. Neo examined the room closely, nodded his head and pulled a can of silver spray paint out of his bag.
“Whoa, what are you doing?” asked Cameron as she blocked the smell of propellant and paint from her sensitive nose with the back of her wrist.
“Creating a safe room,” responded the goth, the tip of his tongue poked out from his mouth as he concentrated on carefully creating intricate squiggles on the wall. When he finished, he looked over at the Were’s who were all watching him with hands over their noses.
“I use this specially prepped spray paint to write glyphs quickly. I can set this room up so I can quickly close us in a circle if need be.” He moved to a different wall and continued his work.
Cameron nodded, impressed. “So basically, you use magic spray paint and tagging as a magical defense?”
“And offence,” Neo had finished the back wall and moved onto the wall opposite the first one. “Depends on what I need. I don’t have to worry about my glyphs or lines getting rubbed out or smudged, and if I need to deactivate, I can just cross out my glyph.”
While Cameron and Neo were talking, the rest of the team had broken out supplies and stashed them around the room. There were more of the odd lanterns, what looked like power supplies, and machetes with an odd sheen to them. Angela had cleared an area and put down a blanket and a small box of medical supplies.
“I thought werewolves could heal quickly?” Kosumi had wandered over and was watching Angela curiously. She glanced up at him, and seeing only curiosity in his expression, decided there was no harm in answering.
“Vampire bites are septic to our kind because their retro virus and ours are not compatible.” She explained. “Plus, most of the weapons that we use are silver plated and it retards our ability to heal.” She indicated the machetes in a pile next to the lamps. “Besides, you and Neo aren’t Were.”
The young man swallowed. “Oh,” he said faintly.
“Let me get some of the water and glucose packs out of your bag.” Kosumi unslung the backpack and opened it up. “Shifting takes up a lot of energy, and it’s the quickest way to heal. We use the glucose packs as energy boosts.”
“You do this kind of thing a lot?” he asked, impressed despite himself at the training and experience the team was showing.
“Enough,” Angela said vaguely. “Conner, Cameron’s father, is the regional head of werewolves of the Pacific Northwest. He’s not overly fond of vampires, and won’t allow any in his territory. Vampires take it personally that an ‘animal’” her face screwed up in a grimace “dictate where they can and can’t go. They are constantly making incursions, trying to set up ‘nests’ or ‘covens’ or whatever is the fashionable word for a group of suckers now a days.” Satisfied with her efforts, she stood up.
Seeing how she was more open to questions when phrased correctly, he decided to keep going. “What are those lamps?”
“UV lights.” Answered Cameron from where she was setting up some strange box with what looked like a small satellite dish antenna on the front. “Vampires don’t do really well in sunlight, so we have portable sunlight.” She flashed a grin at him. “Now if I could figure out how to do those UV grenades like they have in the Blade movies…”
“What’s the issue?” he asked, remembering the scene from the movie.
“Combination of power source and UV LEDs. We can make them, but at the moment, all we can do with them is make what is essentially a flash grenade. We can’t get the power or the intensity that we need in a small enough package. All it really does is annoy them, and temporarily blind us.” She pointed to the lamps. “We have so many of these because these bulbs pack a strong enough burst to actually damage vamps, but they run through batteries like you wouldn’t believe.”
“And they only really work effectively on older vamps anyway.” Added Jared. “The young vamps are too juicy.”
“Juicy?” Neo laughed. “I’ve never heard it put that way before.” Seeing the other human’s confused look, he elaborated. “The older the vamp, the more physical changes the virus has made to the body. They have less liquid in their cells, making them more combustible. Younger vamps have had less time with the virus, so still have body fluids that make them harder to burn.” Seeing the werewolf team looking at him with surprise he said “What? I was Gabe’s apprentice. This isn’t my first foray into the Underground you know. I became his apprentice because I was a street kid that learned to fight back.”
“Ok,” Cameron picked up her lantern, leaving the empty gear bag. “Let’s move on.”
The team wound their way further into the maze of tunnels, the dark occasionally broken up by the ‘skylights’ in the ceiling, which consisted of small glass bricks that had been inset into the concrete of the sidewalks overhead. They set up one more room, this one almost identical to the first one, but with an old toilet instead of a bathtub.
“This would not be my first choice to hole up in,” griped Cliffton, almost gagging on the smell.
“Mine either,” said Neo from where he was tagging more magical symbols on the wall. “And if it’s this bad for me, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the rest of you. This is one of those times where it’s a blessing to only have a human nose.”
“It would hide our scent from the vampires.” Robby pointed out, speaking for the first time since they entered the tunnels. “I can stuff something up my nose for that advantage.”
“We couldn’t smell them either.” Pointed out Cameron as she set up the last of the strange boxes from the last case.
“So the vampires have heighten senses as well?” ask Kosumi from where he was helping Angela set up the primitive first aid station.
“Our sense of smell is better, as well as our hearing, and we are faster and stronger. Their eyesight is adapted to see in the dark, and like cats, they are attracted to motion. What speed and strength they do have comes from the lack of chemical limits that human bodies have in place to prevent damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons. The older the vampire, the more the virus has mutated the body to turn them into super predators.” Angela finished setting up, left her empty gear bag and finished transferring the last of her supplies into a messenger bag she had slung across her body. The second site Cam had picked out on the map had been unacceptable, the room halfway filled with rubble from a collapsed wall, so this was their first fall back position before entering the area where Patrick’s team had been ambushed.
Neo finished up his work, opened his bag and pulled out a leather hood. Grimacing about the fact he was going to mess up his hair, he pulled it down over his head. The neck flared out, giving him protection all the way to his collarbone in front and back. He then pulled out a thick leather collar with a chainmail drape and put that on. He buttoned up the front of his long leather coat, and it was obvious that it had been tailored to flair out at the waist, allowing his legs freedom of movement, while fitting to his upper body giving him extra protection.
Kusomi stared at him while the werewolves concentrated on their own preparations.
“What?” Neo said, sounding exasperated.
“What’s with Matrix outfit?”
“It’s harder to bite through leather.” Snapped Neo, taking the Matrix reference to heart. “The leather is not for show, it’s to keep my skin intact. It’s black because it’s harder to see blood and other body fluids on it, meaning I attract less attention after a fight. And for your information, I went by Neo before the Matrix movies came out. It’s actually a cyberpunk reference.” He dug around in his bag and pulled out another thick leather collar without any chainmail on it. “Not that you deserve it, but here’s my back up.” He tossed it to the other human. “I suggest you put it on and stay close to me.” He nodded towards the werewolves who had unpacked their weapons. “I’m less likely to catch you accidentally with a blade.”
“Clifford, I want you on all fours.” Said Cameron as she opened up her pool stick bag. She reached in and pulled out a weapon with a curved blade on a 5 foot shaft. The weapon should not have been able to fit inside the bag, but somehow it did. Neo whistled in appreciation.
“That’s a nice bit of work there. I didn’t even notice it.”
“Believe it or not, my mother made it for me.” She shrugged and hit the floor with the butt end of her weapon. “She felt that since I insisted on using a bardiche, that I had to have some way of disguising it.”
“Is that what that is?” Neo admired the weapon. It was a crescent moon shaped blade, the bottom of the crescent was bolted to the haft and halfway up the back side of the blade was a bar that attached to the top of the haft, leaving the upper end of the weapon jutting into space. The gap between the bar and where the blade was bolted onto the haft left a space large enough for Cameron to grip the wooden haft. Neo could see from the way she was holding it that it could be used to slash, punch, thrust and hook. It was like the Swiss Army knife of polearms. He noticed the odd bluish tint to the metal. “What’s the blade made out of?”
All the Weres turned to look at him, and he felt like he had inadvertently stepped into dangerous territory. After a moment of weighing her options, Cameron finally answered. “It’s faesteele.”
Neo nodded, understanding their reluctance to impart that information to him, an outsider. You could only get it from one source, and people who trafficked in that kind of magic usually didn’t live long or productive lives.
“What’s faesteele?” asked Kusomi. Neo sighed and hung his head. The kid just didn’t know when to stop.
“It’s a magical metal produced by the Sidhe.” Cameron answered shortly.
“S. i. d. h. e.” Jared spelled it out. “The fair folk.” He waited a beat. “Elves!” He finally said and the light went on over Kosumi’s head.
“Oh, a magic metal.” He looked at them all. “Why didn’t you just say so?” His eyes got bigger when he saw what Jared had pulled out of his bag. “Is that real?”
Jared’s bag had not been magicked like Cameron’s so his weapon really was the size of the rectangle bag he had slung across his back. Out of that bag he had pulled a Bat’leth.
“I’ve never seen one of those outside of TV or a con.” Kosumi seemed actually impressed for once. “How did you learn to use it?”
“It’s actually a modern upgrade to an Indian weapon called Vajra Mushti.” Explained Jared. “The TV show just made it prettier and two-handed.” He swung it around carefully and then performed some flashy moves that showed he knew exactly what he was doing with the weapon, regardless if it was real or fantasy.
“And that right there is the reason we can’t go commercial.” Said Cameron. “TSA goes nuts over that stupid thing.”
“And the piles of machetes and your 5 foot bardiche don’t freak them out?” questioned Neo.
“The machetes we just pack in a box with a bunch of other lawn care equipment and my bag just shows a pool cue when it’s scanned in an x-ray machine.”
Clifford had shifted to wolf form while all this was going on, and was dancing around Cameron’s legs making happy yips. She bent down and started scratching his head with her free hand. His coat was a collection of white, tan, red and grey, which was typical of the now extinct Irish wolves.
“Scout.” Cameron instructed Clifford. “Protect. Scout. Understand?” she asked the wolf. He whined. She pointed at Neo and Kosumi. “Protect. Protect human.” He walked over and sniffed the two humans. “We don’t understand complex ideas in wolf form.” She explained as she stood up. “Are we ready?”
Jared had removed his shirt and kicked off his sandals, and now wore only cut off sweat pants. Robby had likewise removed his shoes and carried a pair of machetes that he twirled in each hand to loosen his wrists. Angela had removed her ripped up t-shirt and stood there in a sports bra, cargo shorts and her cross slung bag. She had flares stuck in her pockets, a machete in her right hand and a UV lantern in her left.
“Let’s go.” Cameron led her group out into the tunnels again and continued to follow Patrick’s footprints.
The walked for another 10 minutes, with Clifford disappearing up ahead, then falling behind to make sure they didn’t run into any unexpected surprises. They could smell the site of the Seattle team’s last stand before they got there; the slaughterhouse stench of death cut through the pervasive smell of sewage. They came upon a small alcove, and it looked like the team had tried to make a stand there. There were piles of bodies, testifying that they had gone down fighting, but had been overwhelmed by numbers.
“Angela,” Cameron said, indicating she should check the bodies while the rest stood watch. Neo joined her, searching for his master. Robby toed one of the bodies of what appeared to be a homeless man. The body shifted and the head rolled free, mouth open displaying characteristic fangs.
“Baby vamps.” Grunted Robby, noticing the fangs were short and immature. “Now we know where the disappeared went to.”
From further down the tunnel where Clifford had gone to scout, there came growls and barks. “Heads up.” Called Cameron, “we have incoming.” She stepped forward, using her light to shine down the tunnel to see what was coming. Clifford gave a yelp of pain and came running three legged down the tunnel. Behind him, three figures gave chase.
Cameron ran to meet them, giving her team time to shift to their half wolf, half human warrior form. She thrust her bardiche forward and with a slight swing to the left and down, beheaded the first figure. Already extended, she brought the blade up and back to the right, hooking the second vampire and shoving him into the third. While the two vampires staggered together, she took the opportunity to pull the weapon back, and with a casual display of strength, thrust it upward through the center of the chest of the vampire in front, and catching the second one at the base of the throat. All of this happened faster than the two human’s eyes could follow distinctly, making the Alpha’s motions a single blur that ended with falling bodies.
“Wow,” was all Neo could say. Kosumi couldn’t even manage that, standing slack jawed next to the mage.
Meanwhile, Jared and Robby had sifted to warrior form, and Angela had lit some flares and thrown them out. The shift had caused them to remove the LED lights from their heads, so the flares light lit up the small area around them.
“We should get more company soon,” said Cameron as she quickly made sure the vamps were dead by removing their heads. “The baby vamps can’t resist the smell of blood. Let’s hope we can keep them from frenzying.”
Angela handed her bag off to Kosumi while she shifted to her warrior form as well. This time, the humans paid attention to the change. First her features started softening like a Halloween mask melting in the hot sun, and her body started sprouting hair. Her nose and mouth started shifting outward to form a muzzle and her ears elongated into points. The brows thickened, producing a definite ridge, and her hair pulled back and emerged more like the tan and grey fur that had sprouted over her body. Her feet elongated, and all her weight shifted to the balls of her feet and toes, her ankles moving to almost midway up her shin, giving the illusion that she now had a second set of knees that bent backwards. This all happened in less than a minute and was accompanied by soft groans and grunts and the sound of joints popping and bones breaking and reknitting.
“That looks painful.” The mage said when she finished. Angela gave him a doggy grin, tongue lolling out of her muzzle.
“It’s hard to talk in that form.” Said Cameron. “You have to have enough control to keep your larynx from shifting too much. However, you do get to keep your human reasoning capabilities and it boosts your strength and speed.”
“And the downside?” asked Neo, noticing that Cameron hadn’t shifted yet nor looked like she was going to.
“You can get overly focused.” Responded Cameron, not taking her eyes off the tunnel the first figures had come down. “Think berserker.” She turned around and gave him a quick wink.
A howl came from down the tunnel. It was quickly followed by another, and another, until it was difficult to determine how many were howling, and which ones were echoes. Cameron leaned down and scoped up one the flares Angela had put out and threw it down the tunnel. It went about 50 ft before it bounced off a running vampire, illuminating the mob running towards them.
“Oh shit,” said Cameron as she braced for impact. She could sense Jared with his Bat’leth moving up on her right and Robby with his machetes moving up on her left. She knew Clifford would follow his instructions to protect the humans, and could feel Neo doing something because the hair on the back of her neck stood up in response the magic he was gathering to himself with his soft chants.
The first line of vampires were 10ft from her when a thunderous boom rolled over her. She saw some kind of liquid splash the first line of vampires before her knees gave out and she pitched face forward onto the ground in front of her. It must have been some kind of explosion, because she couldn’t hear anything over the sound of her own heartbeat before the world faded out.
Kosumi stood there, gun held straight out in a textbook two handed grip for two heart beats before Neo’s right cross knocked him down and he dropped the gun.
“What the fuck man?” the mage shouted before he threw a big white ball of something at the vampires that caused them stop and pile up right in front of where Jared and Robby stood over the fallen body of their Alpha.
“Fall back,” roared Jared through a misshapen mouth. Angela reached down and picked up Cameron, cradling the Alpha in her arms as she sprinted back down the tunnel to the first fall back position. Neo grabbed the bags and sprinted to keep up with the medic, leaving the other human to his fate.
Whatever Neo had done to halt the horde of vamps failed under the sheer weight of numbers that were piling up behind the white light. It popped and Jared and Robby were buried under a wave of grasping, biting, and howling figures. Kosumi lurched to his feet, rubbing his jaw and the motion diverted some of the vamps attention away from the two werewolves and onto the human. Several of them charged him, but a furry form leapt from the side and took out two of them. That left one, who bowled the young man over and started gnawing on his neck. The thick leather collar that Neo had given him frustrated the vamps attempts to rip out his neck. His hand scrabbled to the side to try and find anything to use as a weapon, while the other tried desperately to shove the vampire off of him.
Finally, he managed to grab a flare and jammed it into the vampire’s ear. It screamed and let him go, allowing Kosumi to scrabble out from under the vamp while it clutched it’s head and tried desperately to put out the hair that had caught on fire from the heat of the flare. Something really strong grabbed him from behind and pulled him to his feet. He was just about to thank his rescuer, when the teeth sank into the meaty part of the shoulder where the neck and back meet. He screamed and something hit them from the side and knocked them both into the wall, causing the vampire to let go. Clifford lunged at the vampire again and locked his teeth into her shoulder and then started shaking her like a rat. Kosumi used this opportunity to run down the tunnel after Neo. He noticed that Robby and Jared were still standing and seemed to have cleared a bit of space around them.
Clifford passed him in the tunnel just before he got to the safe room, moving very fast for a wolf with a bum leg. Neo glared at him from where he was waiting just inside the doorway with his can of spray paint, waiting to close the circle.
“The other two?” he asked.
“I think they are coming.” Panted out Kosumi. “They had cleared a space around themselves and seemed to be working their way down the tunnel.” It had been hard to tell with just the glance he got and the adrenaline and terror pumping through his system.
Angela had shifted back to human form and was straddling Cameron, both hands pressed to her chest. The medic had ripped open the redhead’s shirt and it was easy to see that blood still leaked out from between her fingers. “Get me something to press against this, Bluewater.” She snapped. “What the fuck did you shoot her with?”
“A Glock.” He answered as he dropped to his knees beside her and started digging through the medical kit. He handed her a roll of gauze.
“The tampons, idiot.” She hissed at him. “What were you thinking bringing a gun down here! What kind of bullets were you using?”
He blinked stupidly at her. He had assumed the tampons were there in case she or Cameron had ‘women’s issues’. He opened the box and started pulling them out and unwrapping them. Angela was stuffing them in as quickly as he was handing them to her and she didn’t stop until she had 3 tampons in the hole. She rolled the unconscious Alpha over and stuck another one in her back where the entry wound was.
“She needs to shift,” said Angela as she grabbed some alcohol wipes and started cleaning the redhead up and checking for more wounds. The bleeding from the exit wound had slowed, but not stopped. “If I can’t get her to shift, she’ll die.” She glared at the human, her eyes amber and her face was slightly fuzzy. “Did you use silver bullets?”
“No,” stammered Kosumi. “Regular police issue.”
“Here they come,” hollered Neo who had been watching the tunnel anxiously for the other two werewolves. Angela picked Kosumi up and tossed him into the corner with the toilet like a ragdoll. She turned on several UV lamps and picked up a machete and went to stand by the door.
“How bad,” asked Neo, risking a glance at the blonde.
“If she was human, she’d already be dead.” Said Angela flatly, just as Robby came sprinting into view. His torso was covered in cuts and scrapes and blood flowed freely from all of them. It looked like the tip of his left ear had been bitten off. He was down to one machete, its blade broken and he tossed it to the floor as he ran past the two in the entrance. After he cleared the door, he shifted back to human form.
“He’s right behind me,” he panted. “My blades broke so he had to hold them off by himself.” He knelt next to Cameron and started looking her over. A massive roar jerked his attention to the door, and Jared backed into the room, literally holding off two frenzied vampires with his Bat’leth held horizontal.
“On the count of three,” yelled Neo. “One… Two… Three…” on three, Jared gave a mighty shove and the two vampires went flying. On three, Neo finished the glyph and the circle closed, which was immediately apparent when the vampires threw themselves at the doorway and bounced.
Cameron woke up. She was lying in her own bed and the room was filled with light from the morning sun. She turned her head to the right and saw Jessica lying on her side with her head propped up looking at her. The blonde was naked and the sheet was gathered around her waist, treating Cameron to a very nice view.
“Hey you,” said Jessica softly as she reached out and brushed some hair out of the redhead’s face.
“I never get tired of waking up to this view.” Said Cam.
“Me neither,” said Jessica, as she moved to straddle Cam’s waist. “Which is why I need you to shift, honey.”
“Wait, what?” asked Cameron, confused. She hadn’t told Jessica that she was a shape shifter yet, and here was the blonde telling her shift.
“Cameron, I need you to shift.” Jessica lightly slapped the redhead’s face.
Cameron tried to lift her arms to grab Jessica’s hands, but they were heavy and felt like lead when she tried to move them.
“Cameron!” the blonde’s voice had turned desperate, and the light slaps now had some sting behind them. “You have to shift!”
“Jessica?” Cam’s throat felt like there was thick phlegm in it, and she felt some of it bubble out when she said her lover’s name.
Jessica backhanded Cameron, knocking her head to the side and Cameron’s eyes closed.
When she opened them again, it was dark, and she was having trouble breathing. She looked up confused; Angela was straddling her chest, not Jessica, and her hand was raised for another blow. “Goddamn it Cameron! Shift!” the blonde had tears in her eyes.
Cameron closed her eyes again, but this time in concentration. She felt her body sluggishly follow her instructions to shift, but once the process began, it became easier as the shift healed the wound in her chest. She could feel Angela pulling the packing material out of her chest, then pulling the rest of her clothes off as she shifted.
“Oh thank god.” Breathed the medic as she buried her face in her Alpha’s now furry back. “If you had died, I would have killed that boy myself.”
“Too late,” said Robby from where he was checking the state of Kosumi from where he had fallen after Angela had tossed him. “He broke his neck when he landed.” The werewolf looked at the blood on the clothes, then pulled them aside and saw the bite mark on his shoulder. He leaned over closely and sniffed it. “He had been bitten, so it was probably a kindness on your part.” He stood up, grabbed a machete out of the pile and proceeded to behead the human.
“Really? I didn’t smell a thing.” Commented Angela as she pulled what was left of Cameron’s shirt off the wolf in front of her. The wolf gave a lick to her face in thanks, then trotted over to where Clifford was curled up and started licking the wound on his back leg.
“With the back flow from the toilet, plus your attention on Camshaft, I can’t imagine how you might have missed that.” Said Jared dryly now that he had shifted back to human. The shift had healed the wounds the two men had taken in the fight. Angela made a face and tossed each of them a pack of glucose before taking one for herself.
“How long will that shield last?” asked Jared.
“Until I bring it down.” Said Neo. “Or the lay line it’s tapping runs out of power.”
“So they can’t get in at all?”
“Not unless they have something out there that is more powerful than I am and can shatter my shield, nope.” The goth slid down the wall and tilted his head back to look at the ceiling. “Of course, I didn’t ward the ceiling….”
“We aren’t moving until Cameron wakes up.” They all looked over to where Cameron had curled up with Clifford and both wolves were asleep. “The wolf form won’t eat the glucose, so they have to sleep.”
“So you sleep after you shift?” Neo pulled his hood down.
“Only if you took enough damage to need a serious healing like Cameron did.” Explained Jared.
“So why isn’t Clifford shifting back?”
“It’s a vampire bite. It wouldn’t do any good to shift back. It will heal at human rate, and at least as a wolf, he’s still mobile and deadly. We have the same issue with silver.”
“Damn idiot brings a gun down in close quarters to fight supernatural creatures and didn’t even pack silver bullets, which is lucky for us.” Commented Angela.
“New rule,” said Robby. “We search anybody we don’t know for firearms before descending into underground mazes under Seattle.”
The other’s laughed, and watched the number of vampires outside the doorway grow.
Cameron’s eyes opened up and she looked around the room. Packmates Jared, Robby and Angela were sitting against a wall, dozing. Neo was sitting next to the doorway, watching the vampires attack his shield. Clifford was a warm lump at her back. She stood up, stretched, and sniffed Clifford to make sure he was ok. She then trotted over to her team and sniffed each of them. They had all taken some damage, but nothing as severe as Clifford’s vampire bite. Neo was watching her warily, and she could detect a trickle of fear from him as she came over to check him out. Just for fun, she licked his face. He sputtered and shoved her away, and she gave him a wolfish grin. Casting around, she finally found Kosumi or what was left of him, piled in a corner. She investigated the corpse and growled when she found the vampire bite.
The Alpha shifted back to human. She looked down at her chest and found nothing but a slight reddish spot where the bullet came out. She looked over at her team. “What happened?” she asked.
Angela tossed her a pair of shorts to put on. “Idiot boy shot you in the back. I assume it was an accident, but now we’ll never know.”
“I see he got bit,” said Cameron after she put the shorts on. Neo was carefully not looking at her and turning bright red. Werewolves were pretty casual about nudity, but the human seemed embarrassed by her lack of clothing.
“Yeah, it was a mad dash after you went down. Your blood caused the baby vamps to frenzy. I’m pretty sure that entire population of baby vamps are on the other side of that doorway.” Said Jared.
“So the vampire bite killed him?” questioned Cameron as she looked around for something.
“No, I got pissed and tossed him in the corner while I was working on you.” Said Angela handing Cameron a glucose pack. “His neck broke in the fall.”
“Great, that’s not going to go over well with the Salish tribe.” groused Cameron as she opened the pack.
“We could leave out the broken neck part and just go with the vampire bite part.” Suggested Jared.
“We could.” Agreed Cameron. “I’ll think about it when we get out of here.”
Neo was staring at her arms. “I thought werewolves didn’t have tattoos?” he asked. The armband on her left arm was blue flame, the one on her right arm was twining leaves, and the artwork was so good, he could swear the images were moving.
Cameron sighed. “It would be best if you don’t ask too many questions about these marks, but they came from the same place I got my bardiche. Where is it by the way?”
“Probably still back in the tunnel.” Said Angela. “It wasn’t really a priority for me to grab it when you got shot.”
Cameron rolled her head around on her neck, while she thought. “There isn’t anyway to get around it, so everyone gear up. Robby, I want you and Angela in wolf form. Jared, warrior form. Neo, get ready to go as soon as you drop the shield.”
“What are you going to do about them?” he asked as he pulled up his hood and started sorting out his bag.
“Normally, we’d use the plasma shot we have rigged up.” She pointed to the odd box. “But I’d say we are up to our necks in the alligator pit so it’s time to bring out the big guns.” She went and stood by the door and looked out at the frenzied mob. “There’s at least 20 of them out there that I can see.”
“We took out maybe 8 of them between Robby and me. Clifford got one or two while protecting Kosumi.” Said Jared as he picked up his Bat’leth. Angela and Robby were just finishing shifting.
Cameron looked at Neo. “In my misspent youth, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time so I got to spend some quality time in the Unseligh Court.” Neo took in a surprised breath. “Part of my ‘reward’ for winning my freedom was my bardiche.” She held out her left hand and blue fire licked down her arm to her hand from the tattoo. “This was the other part.” She nodded at him to drop the shield.
Neo dropped the shield and ran back to the other side of the room. The vampires spilled into the room, only to be met with a wall of blue flame. They shrieked and tried to pull back away from the flames but the weight of the ones behind pushed them forward. The ones that blundered out of the flames were quickly dispatched by Jared’s bat’leth or the other 3 werewolves jaws. It was over in minutes, and the room had risen by at least 20 degrees, the fire licking hungrily at the bodies of the fallen vampires.
Cameron was visibly drained and sweating heavily. Neo came up to stand next to her. “That was amazing. I didn’t even feel the magic either.”
She smiled at him. “Fae magic apparently operates at a different frequency than human magic. You have to specifically be looking for it from what I’ve been told.”
“Makes sense,” he was staring at her chest. “Not to be a prude, but could you put on a shirt or something? You’re a smoking hot chick and your tits are distracting.”
Cameron laughed and picked up Jared’s discarded shirt and put it on. “We need to move. The makers of these baby vampires are going to know that something happened to them.”
The team moved out, Robby ranging ahead in wolf form, Angela in the back and Clifford sticking close to Neo, still under orders to protect the human. Neo had conjured several witchlights that spread out among the group. When they reached the ambush site, Cameron picked up her bardiche with a sound of happiness. Jared seemed to roll his eyes, but it was hard to tell with his face distorted by a muzzle.
“What?” Cam muttered. “I love this weapon.” Robby gave a soft woof from further down the tunnel. “This way, Robby’s got a scent.”
The team jogged after the wolf, dodging pieces of discarded 19th century trash and fallen rubble. The dust had been disturbed recently, indicating someone or several someones had recently taken this tunnel. They had just reached an intersection when something stepped out of a shadow and knocked Neo into the wall. It stepped back into another shadow and Cameron’s backstrike hit nothing but air. “Shadow walker.” She shouted. “Neo, kill the lights!”
The figure laughed and appeared behind Cameron. He kicked Clifford, who yelped in pain even as he tried to bite the vampire when he hit Cameron in the back of the head. She stumbled forward, seeing stars. Neo managed to get his breath back. “Quench” he gasped out and the witchballs disappeared, throwing the tunnel into darkness.
“That won’t help you, animal.” Taunted the vampire. “You can’t see in the dark.”
Cameron turned her head, searching, then thrust with her bardiche, skewering the vampire and pinning him to the tunnel wall. “I don’t need to see you to hit you, and you can’t run like a coward without shadows. Lights!”
Neo conjured the lights back and saw with some surprise that Cameron had pinned the vampire center mass to a wall on the other side of the intersection. Clifford and Robby stood on either side, growling at the vamp, while Jared kept an eye down each of the tunnels that met up. Angela nudged his hand with her head, and he petted her absently.
“Do you not understand that vamps are not welcome in this part of the country?” asked Cameron as she twisted the blade. The vampire let out a cry of pain. “We’ve killed dozens of you but you still keep coming back. Even monkeys learn after the third time.” She twisted the blade again. “What’s your excuse?”
“Fuck you, beast.” Ground out the vampire. “We go wherever we want.” Black lines appeared on his neck, radiating upwards.
“As much as I’d love to continue this conversation,” said Cameron. “I think the poisoning from the faesteele is going to cut this short.” The vampire’s brown eyes widened in horror, and his mouth opened to scream, but a gout of black blood came out instead. His mouth opened and closed a few more times, each time, more black blood poured out until finally, the magic sustaining his body died, leaving nothing but a desiccated corpse pined to the wall like a dried out bug.
“Somehow, that never gets old.” Said Cameron as she shook the body off the end of her blade.
“Wow, faesteele works fast,” Said Neo. “Does it do that to all vamps?”
“He was over a century,” said Cameron. “I can tell by the empty husk.” She kicked the body and it rattled like a locus skin. “The younger ones actually explode.”
“They must hate faesteele.” Said Neo as he bent down to check the body.
“It’s not all that healthy for Were’s either.” Cameron lifted her shirt and showed Neo a nasty scar on her stomach. “Goes all the way through too,” she turned around and showed him the other side. She held out her hands and showed him all the little scars over her fingers and thumb. “I’ve gotten so sensitive to the metal that I can’t wield a faesteele sword anymore. Had to switch to a polearm.” She patted the haft. “Wooden haft.”
“You have a faesteele sword?” He asked as they started walking down the tunnel following Robby again.
“I don’t, no.” she flashed a grin at him but didn’t elaborate.
“How familiar are you with this part of the Underground?” she asked Neo about 10 minutes later. The twists and turns and collapsed portions had totally confused her sense of direction.
“Eh, it’s been awhile, but I used to hide out from the cops down here.” He replied. “Are you lost?”
She snorted. “Of course not. I just don’t know where the quickest way to get out of the Underground from here is.”
Neo laughed. “Worry about that after we kill the vamps.”
“I was just checking to see if it was worth the extra effort to keep your skin intact so we could find a quick way out.” Retorted Cameron.
Just then, Robby barked from up ahead. “He’s found something.” Said Cameron as she and the other werewolves broke into a run. Neo tried to keep up but they quickly left him behind with Clifford.
When the mage finally caught up with the other werewolves, Cam was leaning on her weapon, looking at the three vampires her wolves had cornered. The fourth lay in pieces on the floor. “Well, this is rather anti climatic,” he puffed as he stood next to the Alpha. She shot him an amused look.
“I know, right?” she agreed. “But we are rather effective at defending our turf, so it’s not like we get the A list of vampires coming in. It’s usually the ones who got in trouble, or some vamp trying to make a name for himself.”
“So that wasn’t a high ranking vampire you skewered in the tunnel?” he asked. At hearing this, the vampires started wailing and howling.
“Hardly.” The vampires still had not ceased their caterwauling. “ Oh shut up!” bellowed Cameron. Her wolves backed up her order with some bites and smacks and the vampires reluctantly quieted down.
“Though the shadow stepping thing was cool.” She indicated the captive vampires. “These guys are barely past the baby vampire stage. They have enough control not to frenzy when they smell supernatural blood.” She pointed to the dead vampire on the ground. “But they aren’t strong enough to effectively fight back against trained werewolves. I’d say they are maybe 20 years old, definitely no older than 50.”
“So what are we going to do with them?” Neo asked. Cameron gave him an evil grin.
“First one who talks gets to live.” She called out into the room.
“Fuck you.” Growled out the male vampire. Cameron stepped forward with her bardiche raised.
She was stopped by a large hand on her shoulder.“He talked,” growled out Jared through a misshapen face.
“Point. Ok, first one who gives me information gets to live.” Corrected Cameron.
“I’ll talk.” Said the blonde female vampire Robby had hemmed in a corner.
“And we have a winner!” said Cameron. Angela and Jared quickly dispatched their vampires, and joined Robby with his captive.
“So what information do you have?” Cameron didn’t look at the vampire, but instead inspected her weapon.
“Danek came here to establish his own coven.” She spoke quickly, as if to get as much information out to prove her worth before Cameron set her wolves on the vampire. “The Master has offered a reward to any vampire that can set up a coven in the Pacific Northwest.”
Cameron waved her hand disinterestedly, “We know all about the reward. Go on.”
“Danek had a plan. He would make a bunch of baby vampires and then used them in large numbers to overwhelm any opposition.” Her eyes glittered. “It took out the first team.” Robby and Angela growled and stepped closer to the vampire.
“Which didn’t do any good because then another team would show up and be better prepared.” Cameron still wasn’t impressed with the level of information that the vampire was providing.
“But Danek planted someone on your team with orders to kill Conner’s son when the baby vampires attacked.” The vampire almost gloated. “And I don’t see a male Alpha on your team so it must have succeeded.”
The redhead sighed. “Was the name of Conner’s son Cameron?” the vampire looked shocked. “Yeah, I get that a lot. And I’m still here. How did he get the Salish Tribe to co-operate?”
“Who?” asked the vampire.
“So Kosumi wasn’t an official escort of the Salish Tribe?” clarified Cameron. “That’s a relief.”
“The Indian guy was enthralled by Danek to kill you once the swarm hit. Which took a lot of work, because that Indian guy wasn’t stupid, he knew that taking out the Alpha would probably mean the baby vampires would get him too.”
“I think the correct term would be Native American or First Nation,” broke in Neo. “Every time you say Indian, I think of the software engineers we have running around or Bollywood.”
“Whatever.” The vampire didn’t seemed concerned about political correctness.
“Neo, you mind taking a look around the room and see if you can figure out what they have down here that makes it hard for the Guild to see in?” said Cameron, figuring that was all the information that she was going to get for now.
“Sure.” The mage started inspecting the room.
“Do you have a coffin or a shipping crate or something?” the redhead asked the vampire. The vampire shot her a dirty look. “I’m not going to let you go, and I don’t think you’ll do well in daylight, and I’m not waiting around in this stinky tunnel until it gets dark enough that you won’t get a fatal sunburn.”
“Ah ha! Found it!” Neo held a golden candelabra thing over his head. “I wonder where they got this. The Guild leaders will be thrilled to have this.” He stuffed it in his bag. “What do we do about this?” he indicated the ‘lair’ the vampires had set up. It was gaudy in a way a bad goth night club or a low rent vampire movie would stage a lair. Cameron wrinkled her nose.
“Would it be a bad thing for the regular inhabitants of this place to move in? Right now, it just looks like some suburban goth kids found an entrance to the Underground and set up a clubhouse.”
“Hey!” the blonde vampire actually seemed insulted.
“No, it looks like they only had this one magical item.”
“Donovan will be sending in his own team to clean the tunnels out. I’ll just make sure to tell them to come get the bodies in here too.” Said Cameron. “So let’s find our pet a box and leave this place.”
The werewolves eventually found a crate to put their captive in. Since Robby and Angela had left their clothes back at the room with Kosumi’s body, and no one wanted to go back, they stayed in wolf form, while Jared shifted back to human.
Neo led them to exit point he remembered from his misspent youth, and convinced Cameron and Jared to stash their weapons near the entrance. “Our clothing is already going to draw attention, as well as 3 wolves and the big crate we are carrying. Let’s not add to panic by including weird weapons, ok?”
The entrance led them out near a water spillway, and one of Donovan’s wolves ran up. He had obviously been waiting for them. “I’ve called the Pack Leader, and he’s sending some pick up vehicles.” He said after he ran up to them. He sniffed the box and started growling.
“Now, now, don’t make our guest feel unwelcome.” Chastised Cameron. “Can I talk to Donovan really quick?” The younger were handed her the phone. “Hey Donovan.” She started but was drowned out by the Pack Leader’s yelling. “No look, I’m fine.” She broke in briefly. “No, I don’t know what it’s like to have my father calling every 5 minutes.” She got in. “But I’m fine, and once he gets here..” more yelling. “Well, when does his plane land?” she rolled her eyes at her team. “Fine, the sooner you pick us up, the quicker we can get changed and go pick up our gear and clean out the tunnel..” more yelling. “Ok, fine. I’ll go meet my father’s plane and you send your people in to clean out the tunnel.” She winked at Neo, who grinned. “But I still want to shower and change.” She ended the call and tossed the phone to the waiting were. “Make sure to collect all of our stuff, especially our weapons just inside the entrance here, and our gear in the two rooms we used at fall back positions.” He nodded. “Oh, and be careful to get all the bodies.” She added, watching his eyes widen in shock.
Two vans pulled up, and the team quickly stashed their undead cargo in one, and climbed in the other.
After quickly cleaning up, and making arrangements for their vampire guest, Cameron and Jared caught a ride with Scott back out to the airport to meet her father’s plane. As they stood on the tarmack in the early evening, waiting for it to finish taxing up, Jared’s phone rang.
Cameron left him to answer it, while she greeted her parents as they came down the steps. Her father gathered her up in a strong embrace. “I felt how close you came.” He said horsely.
“The Salish Tribe didn’t send a representative, it turns out.” Said Cameron as she returned the hug. “The vampire enthralled someone to kill me. Luckily, it’s really hard to get silver ammo.”
Her father released her, and Siobhan, her mother also gave Cameron a hug. Cameron tensed and patted her on the arms. At that moment, Jared ran up to Cameron. “Jessica was attacked at your house!” he said, waving the cell phone. “Katrina is there now, and it looks like it was a wolf attack. She’s on her way to the hospital, because there is a lot of blood and your Caddy is missing.”
“Give Donovan my regrets,” she said to her father before running up the stairs to the plane. “And I’m borrowing your plane,” she hollered back down to him. She had intercepted Caleb and practically shoved him back to the cockpit.
“Go with her,” Conner told Jared. “And keep me informed. If this was a wolf attack…” he didn’t finish the sentence. Jared nodded and followed Cameron onto the plane. If a werewolf attacked Jessica at Cameron’s house, there would be hell to pay.
To be continued in The Wolves of Orange County.
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