The scotsman seemed to be familiar with how submarines were laid out, and carefully led the escapees towards the engine room, the regular thudding of the steam engines growing louder. It was lucky the noise was increasing, as it covered the sounds of the brief fighting when they encountered stray sailors! There was an increasing chance someone would stumble upon one of their comatose foes, and follow the trail of bodies directly to them, so the group made what haste they could, considering Beryl’s state, which seemed to be improving. It almost seemed a competition for the two men, seeing who could dispose of the next poor unfortunate the quickest!
They finally reached a large area filled with catwalks and dozens of strange tubes and boilers. There was railing to prevent falling below to the lower level which was rounded, but that was where they needed to go so they wouldn’t be found.
They moved quietly, the noise of their dropping to the metal below got the attention of some engineers, but they were able to hide quickly and the sub always made strange noises.
Jim had them navigate between the area clogged with pipes stealthily until he found a big red wheel connected along the wall. The scotsman examined the pipes and where they led a few more times before he nodded, and motioned that he was going to turn it. He then motioned for them to run as soon as he had completed the sabotage..
He made his way over without any trouble, but something didn’t sit right with the urchin and Beryl seemed to be looking around as well uncomfortably. Jim paused when he reached it, obviously feeling something was wrong as well, but he started to turn the wheel.
The piercing sound of an alarm roused the attention of the engineer crew and almost immediately the four were spotted from the upper catwalks. The sailors picked up whatever was to hand, wrenches, hammers, and a few drew cutlesses from their belts.
Billy snarled, as he readied his blade and headed for the men who had started to climb and jump over the railing while Jim finished turning the wheel and then picked up his weapon again. Tepic and Beryl both jumped from their location and hid themselves in the maze of boilers, but they jumped opposite directions!
Tepic could hear the men screaming as metal clashed on metal and pipes resounded everywhere. His ears were ringing and the echo made it difficult to know which way anyone was coming. He could hear Beryl calling for him and looking, sometimes hissing and men screaming, but he couldn’t find anyone.
He looked about trying to get his bearing when from behind he heard a faint sound and then the swish of a blade! He twisted sideways, and felt the metal brush down his back, then a slight tug and a ‘snick!’. Before the man, one of the engineers that had bombed his store, had an opportunity to recover, the lad had continued his spin and bit down hard on the arm before him. Tepic’s teeth were like his ears and tail, more fox than boy, something his assailant had not counted on, and he gave a roar of pain as the sharp points dug down to the bone, making his hand open and the cutlass drop to the floor.
Tepic was thrust to the side, hit against the nearest boiler by the man to release him. He didn’t release his grip and the man hit him again. With a grunt he felt his grip loosen despite his best effort when suddenly a black bloody figure pounced on the sailor from behind, and the man let out his death throttle as claws ripped across his jugular.
The man released Tepic who fell to the ground. He tried to stand up but something was not quite right, he couldn’t seem to get his balance, and for some reason his legs felt all wobbly. He staggered a little, putting a hand against the wall to steady himself and looked at Beryl.
“I’m sorry,” the cat said as he stared down at the dying man, though Tepic got the feeling he was talking to him and not the man.
Tepic looked and saw poking out from under the man’s prone form a flash of white and orange that looked vaguely familiar. He turned his head to look behind himself and lifted his tail to see how much fur he had lost. Nothing came into view, and he twisted his body round to see better….. His tail was gone.
The scream of a fox, as described by the few who have heard it, is the most blood chilling, gut wrenching sound of despair in, or even out, of this world. Beryl covered their ears and the alarm in the room went ignored as every weapon stilled, every head turned to the source of this unearthly cry, and all saw the boy turn white as a ghost and crumple to the floor as the enormity of his situation struck home to him.