“Run!” [Dex] took off, Calvin and Letty not questioning him. They sped down the debris and dirt-covered road as half a dozen Felid and wolf Therians gave chase. Up ahead, Sloane roared. Hobbs and Cael turned, heading back in their direction. They dashed past Dex, Calvin, and Letty, straight for the Therians chasing them. Dex glanced back long enough to see Cael speed around the Therians, confusing them, trying to trip them up, while Hobbs swatted at them, his razor-sharp claws extended. The two wolf Therians yelped, and dashed off. They weren’t going to face off against a tiger Therian.
Dex ran after his teammates into the building they suspected Juarez and Turner were hiding in. Ash and Sloane dove into a small group of charging Therians while Dex, Letty, and Calvin headed for the stairs. He hoped it could take their weight.
Calvin swiped up a big rock as he ran and hurled it at the stairs with all his strength. It bounced off and landed on the bare concrete floor. Letty went first, the stairs creaking under her weight. It held up fine. Calvin followed. Dex paused.
“Move your ass, Daley.” Calvin stopped at the top of the stairs, and Dex cursed under his breath. He sensed movement behind him and had no choice but to run up the stairs. Halfway up, his boots went through the hollow concrete of one step. Shit! He had nothing to hold on to, so he flailed. Calvin grabbed one arm and Letty the other. They pulled, groaning and grunting. Dex managed to pull his foot out, and they stopped to catch their breaths at the top. Well, Letty and Calvin did. Calvin eyed him but didn’t say a word. Letty on the other hand….
“What the fuck, Dex? What the hell are you carrying?”
“The usual,” Dex said, moving past them. “Come on.” He wasn’t about to get into it now. True, he was carrying just the usual, but his body mass had changed. Despite him looking more or less the same, he was heavier than a Human should be. Thankfully, his teammates let it go for now, and they continued upward until Dex smelled it—kind of like Sloane but different.
“Juarez.” Dex turned, his rifle aimed and ready as he slowly made his way down the ruins of what had once been an office building or something similar. The corridor had too many doorways for his liking.
“How do you know?” Letty asked.
“I just do.” Dex peeked into one of the rooms. “Clear.”
“Dex, it’s pitch-black in there. How the hell do you know it’s clear?” Calvin hissed.
“Because I do.” It might not be the answer his friends wanted to hear, but it was all he was giving them at the moment. “I’ll explain later, okay? Right now, we need to—” A high-pitched chirp caught his ear, and he straightened. “Cael.” Another distressed chirp and a hiss. Dex turned, and Calvin caught his arm.
“Cael’s in trouble.”
“What? How the hell do you know?”
Couldn’t they hear him? Dex opened his mouth as a lion’s roar echoed through the building. Ash. It was Ash frustrated at not being able to get to Cael.
Calvin released Dex, his eyes wide. “When this is over, you’re going to tell us what the hell is going on.”
Copyright © 2016 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press. Thick & Thin pre-order 1/2/17, release day 2/1/17.