Chapter XLII: The True Meaning of HellBeyond the doorway was natural rock, illuminated green by light below. I dropped down the shaft, coming to a ripped open sewer access pipe. Crawling through, I levered myself into a dimly lit passage. Inside the room was a body. A mechanical portcullis separated me from one of the fleshcrafter's creatures, which gazed hungrily at me from between the bars. Almost disdainfully, I lifted the colt and pressed it between the bars. The creature sniffed at it suspiciously, before a resounding blast silenced it eternally. Turning, I went to search the body. A maintenance worker, his stomach torn open, the pool beneath him days old. Gripped tightly in his grasp as if the small woodchip board was a shield was a maintenance report. I looked through it, hoping for some information on where to find the Nosferatu. There the report ended. I dropped the paper, feeling some small sympathy for the man. Standing, I walked to the portcullis, slamming the lever down with the butt of the shotgun. I checked my supplies, noticing how light my pack felt. Hopefully I'd be out of here soon. Dispatching two more mouths-with-legs, I came across a maintenance office. Leaning down, I picked the lock, giving me access to the room. The storage cupboard held a significant amount of ammunition. I reloaded and restocked, thankful for this small mercy, surprised at finding such a stash in a sewer system. Maybe the rats here were big. Crossing the room to the desk, I picked up another report. So, the area had been sealed off, preventing both escape from within, and investigations from without. Whoever had remained trapped down here was doomed. I left the office, and headed down a branch of the sewer system with no idea whether I was proceeding in the right direction. Each tunnel looked the same as every other tunnel. Passing down twisting corridors, the only sound that of flowing sewerage, I headed down a rampart, dispatching the creature lurking at the bottom. Beyond it however was a dead-end, a portcullis preventing me from continuing down this route. Gritting my teeth, I headed back the way I had come, and proceeded down the opposing route, again cut off in the same place. Kicking at the metal gate in frustration, I turned, wondering what to do next. If I couldn't find a way through, I'd have no choice but to go back through the flesh-house, find another way to the warrens.
Walking back, I came across an uncovered access tunnel. Peering inside, I could see distant light at the end, heard the sound of falling water. Leaning down, crawling on my stomach, I went hand over hand towards the sound. I climbed bodily out of the pipe, and into a large room with a metal door on the floor. Looking around, I saw a wheel built into one of the pipes. The gate across from the opening was closed, the lever on the other side, a face watching me malevolently. Walking over to the pipe, I turned the wheel, and watched as the panel on the floor opened. 'Well...no other way to go...' I muttered. Hoping against hope that I wasn't throwing myself into an inescapable pit, I jumped into the water, and swam down the passage. Not needing to breath, it was effortless to pull myself through the water, for a distance no mortal would have been able to survive. At last, I came to an opening. I had come into a processing plant. Climbing out of the water and onto the cement floor, I heard the familiar grunting coming from the pipes behind me. Swinging around, I fired two shots quickly into the pipe, watching as the creature inside collapsed, disintegrated. I pulled myself through the pipe, feeling hunger-pains gnawing at me, my mouth dry, my vision blurring slightly. I had another bloodpack, but hesitated. If there was something further on, I might need the pick-me-up. I found it hard to believe that the Nosferatu were being so successfully pinned down by these creatures alone. I'd have to be careful; blood didn't seem in supply here. Even the inner voice was silent, dormant. Steadying myself, I proceeded into the next room. The same as the first, it had several pipes, all of which closed off, my way blocked. Looking up above the threshing machine, I could see light from an access tunnel above. Looking around, I found some barrels, which I could use to stop the machine. Pulling myself up into the tunnel, and proceeding through to the next room, I stepped forwards, my boot-heels noisily falling on the cement floor.
I stopped, hearing two of the creatures coming from tunnels to the left. I turned, reading the shotgun, ready to end their pitiful existences.
And then I stopped, hearing more coming from the right. The loud call seemed to summon more of the creatures, baleful red eyes staring at me from darkened corners, from blocked tunnels. Eight, nine...ten of the creatures, all poised for the attack. I felt skin grow cold, my hackles rise. The Beast, once dormant, began yelling, incoherent panic and anger. I stepped back, watching one of the creatures slowly approach. Quickly surveyed the room, deciding at once I couldn't fight here. Too easy to be outflanked, to be attacked from all sides. I wouldn't last five minutes. One minute. I retreated, heading back to the tunnel. I heard the yipping, gasping calls behind me, as the creatures vaulted forwards on their twisted hands.
I came to the centre of the tunnel, and turned. No way around me, no way more than two of the creatures could attack at once. With slightly shaking hands, I raised the shotgun. The first creatures jumped towards me, claws extended, mouths hungrily seeking bared flesh. The shotgun fired twice, dropping one of the creatures, and I repositioned slightly to shoot at the next. It fell, shook, crawled grotesquely towards me, seeking to bite at my leg. I could not focus on it however, as its fall had given another the space to attack. I fired at it, watching it explode, corrosive blood splattering the walls of the tunnel, the metal hissing. I hissed as the tainted liquid burnt into my face. Closing a bubbling eye, I fired again, killing another creature. Gave a pained groan as the forgotten, wounded creature bit deep, shattering the bone above the ankle. I dropped the shotgun, now empty, and drew the katana. The first attack was a downwards thrust, through the face of the bastard creature wrapped around my leg. It disintegrated, easing the pain a little, although I could put no weight on that leg. I looked up as another creature jumped. Time seemed to slow as my senses heightened, as I carefully judged where to attack. As the creature came down, I raised the blade. Slowly...slowly...I sensed now was the time to attack. Lifting the blade, point up, the creature landed on it's tip, sliding down slowly as it screamed in hunger, claws slashing at my face. I pulled backwards, arm outstretched, using my strength to throw the creature off the blade, where it knocked the next advancing creatures down as it collapsed in on itself. Seizing the initiative when the creatures attempted to stand up, I took a step forward, clenching my teeth in agony as the tortured bones ground against eachother.
I don't know how much more of this I can take!
I slashed quickly, killing one creature instantly, the blade going through it's brainstem. The second was more problematic, edging away from the blade. My attention divided, another creature had jumped at me, teeth closing around the other wrist. I screamed, feeling the tendons snap, the blood pulse from my ruined flesh, felt the bone giving way...
Fool! Move, or you'll lose the hand!
Slashing at the other creature again to force it back, I slammed the creature attached to my wrist against the side of the tunnel, again, again, again. It began to loosen it's grip, it's brains being pulverised by the attack. With a defiant roar, I slammed it one final time, watching the bones protrude from it's face as it collapsed. I looked at the mangled hand, the split fingers, the shattered wrist. It no longer hurt. I no longer hurt. Teeth bared, my vision clouded, my mind erased. With a feral cry I jumped towards the remaining creatures, no longer limited by my broken leg. Laughing manically, blood and drool pouring from my mouth, I slashed wildly, stabbing one creature so violently the sword became stuck, the creature falling, trying vainly to pull it out with it's deformed hands. I turned on the next one, picking it up and slamming it across the back of the impaled creature, the blade parting it's skin. The creatures formed a bizarre shishkabob for a second before disintegrating. The final creature, feeling some sort of primeval fear, tried to back away, tried to turn in the restrictive space. I laughed again, eyes narrowing.
'Don't even think of escaping!', I growled, spitting blood. Jumping forwards, I landed bodily upon the creature, which squealed in pain, trying to escape. Ignoring it's writhing, I clenched my fist, driving it hard into the ugly, mutated face. Again I hit it, watching the face flatten, the teeth shatter, the tongue split in half. Again, and an eye-socket collapsed, the eye popping. Again. Again. Again. I laughed while beating my beastial tattoo upon the creature, smashing the flesh until the creature disintegrated, my fist going through bone and smashing heavily against the floor. My mind clearing, I looked at the hand. The mangled, ruined hand, which I had used to beat the creature. I looked up, surveying the damage I had done. Blood had sprayed against the walls, bits and pieces of the flesh-crafter's work remaining. All my pain returned threefold. My head swam, pounding with thirst and agony. With a muffled groan, I sank to the floor, my eyes closing.