Clockwork 1888 Date: Saturday, May 28, through Wednesday, June 1, 1892
Turning a corner, Mickey paused. “This is where we were the last time,” he whispered, “me and Jackie.” The memories wrinkled his face in the lantern light. “We’d gone farther, just around the corner, and I’d decided we should leave when I saw all the big ones. We got to here when the rats seemed to think we shouldn’t leave and came after us.”
“Jackie,” he whispered. “He lagged behind me in the retreat. I noticed and looked back. He saw me and then charged the rats, took on the whole hoard of them, to give me time to get away.” Mickey’s eyes glistened. “I haven’t seen him since.” His jaw tightened as he spoke, “I’m here to make them rats pay for killing Jackie.”
“I think you’ll get the chance,” Evgenia whispered as she pointed her gun down the sewer tunnel. Bartley, who was ahead in the darkness, could see them, too. At least five of the man-sized rats, and as many swarms, had gathered at the junction up ahead, waiting for them.
Dracona didn’t see them in the darkness but Evgenia raised her rifle and shot at one of the rats as they began their charge forward. The rats were the man-sized ones and they didn’t seem to notice Bartley hidden in the tunnel as they charged past him to the others. Bartley let them pass him because he was after bigger game and he could feel it was near.
Mickey was on the one side of the tunnel and Archibald on the other side as the rats attacked them. Archibald fired at the man-sized rat that was charging him but it was not enough to stop it from biting him. The swarms moved closer and Bartley readied his elephant gun as he heard the sound of something big coming from around the corner.
The rat that came around the corner was probably the size of a horse. As it came into his sight, Bartley raised the level of his gun to compensate for its size and fired. His position given away by the blast from his rifle the beast charged and bit him.
Dracona blew fire upon the rats between Archibald and Mickey, setting one of them on fire. Evgenia changed her target to the behemoth that had turned the corner and shot it. The man-sized rats moved forward between them, attacking Archibald and Mickey again as the one on fire dove into the sewer water to douse itself.
Archibald took a step back around the corner and fired at the rat attacking him as the swarms got closer. Two of the swarms moved to Bartley to attack him and help their obvious pack leader. Bitten by the swarm, Bartley stepped back out of the swarm and fired again at the behemoth that continued to pursue and bite at him.
Dracona blasted the rats again, setting another ablaze as Evgenia continued to shoot the beast rat. One of the man-sized rats charged up to Evgenia to bite her while the others continued to attack Archibald, Mickey and Dracona. Archibald continued to back up and shoot the man-sized rat attacking him, finally killing it.
Then the swarms got to them, swarming Dracona, Mickey and Archibald, initially as one of the swarms on Bartley left and headed for Evgenia. Bartley quickly reloaded, stepped back toward his allies and fired at the beast rat that attacked him again. Dracona caught some of the swarms in her fiery breath and it seemed most effective against them.
Another of the man-sized rats died in the fire blast while Evgenia stepped away from the man-sized rat on her and shot the beast rat, again. Another man-sized rat doused itself in sewer water while the last three continued to attack Mickey, Dracona and Archibald. Archibald shot another man-sized rat dead and then switched to his shotgun as the swarms attacked them again.
Bartley backed off again, blasting the beast as it tried to bite him again. Dracona turned her fire breath to the swarm and man-sized rat attacking Evgenia, killing the man-sized rat. Evgenia evaded the rat swarm pursuing her and shot the beast rat again.
The man-sized rats continued to attack Mickey and Dracona as Archibald blasted the swarm with his shotgun. With the burning that Dracona had put on it, the shotgun blast was enough to kill that swarm. The remaining swarms continued to attack Mickey, Dracona, Evgenia and Bartley.
Bartley again took a step back toward his allies and shot the beast. It attacked him again but missed. The one man-sized rat had been in mortal combat with a vengeful Mickey and Mickey finally killed that rat. Bartley had gotten close enough that Dracona stepped up near him and blasted two rat swarms and the monster rat, killing the two swarms and setting the beast alight.
Evgenia stepped out of, literally ignoring, the rat swarm biting her and shot the beast again. Archibald blasted another swarm with the shotgun, killing that swarm before the other swarms attacked again. Bartley shot the monster rat and it slumped over in the tunnel, finally dead.
They wiped out the last of the swarms and man-sized rats with relative ease after the beast died. “We got ‘em for you, Jackie!” Mickey called out after the last rat died. It was Dracona who heard it then, a quiet noise at first but then louder and more persistent.
Following the noise around the corner and closer to the lair of the monster rat, they found a metal door that concealed a set of valves. Inside was a rat bitten, thin and mangy Jack Russell terrier. “Jackie!” Mickey called excitedly as he grabbed the dog and the two were reunited.
Bartley, in the meantime was examining the largest rat. It was the size of a horse and had six legs instead of the typical four. He could tell that such mutations were most likely due to magical manipulations. When she returned, Dracona confirmed his finding.
Bartley got his photograph with the biggest rat and he debated on whether to get the monstrosity stuffed or not. They helped Mickey take the rats out of the sewer so he’d get the credit at his job for them. He informed them that the city had decided to report the larger rats as smaller ones to avoid creating bad publicity for the city. And besides, they had taken care of the problem so it was handled.
Bartley and the others agreed to return to help search for more of the unusually large rats. Over the next couple of days, they continued to root out the last of the man-sized sewer rats. Another of the very large six-legged rats was not found and their first encounter with it was apparently at its lair.