Chapter 18 – Wolf Pack
The fire pots had all been set alight, and Blackflag Outpost was thoroughly illuminated by lamps and torches. Terror swept through the entire outpost like a tempest, spreading from person to person like a plague. The sound of sobbing and screaming could be heard everywhere as the terrifying beast wave drew closer and closer.
Beast waves! They were the most terrifying natural disasters which existed in the wastelands! This was a unique type of battle for survival which only wastelanders would ever encounter, a battle launched by large numbers of hungry mutabeasts against the outposts where many humans were gathered.
Cloudhawk had just arrived here a month ago, and so he had naturally never experienced one of these beast waves personally. And yet, he had heard some stories regarding beast waves from the older mercenaries. Supposedly, the vast majority of human outposts in the wastelands ended up being destroyed by beast wave outbreaks. Each beast wave portended a calamitous baptism by blood. Even if the attacked outpost was strong enough to resist the beast wave, it would still suffer heavy losses and rivers of blood would form. Was Blackflag Outpost going to suffer this same fate as well?
An atmosphere of terror and despair pervaded the outpost. Even Cloudhawk felt rather nervous. He had never experienced a calamity like this before, and he had no idea as to what he would be facing.
Just as everyone’s hearts were in a state of disarray, a series of frenzied growls could be heard rumbling outside in the wilderness. It sounded like a rumbling landslide, like waves crashing against the shore! The terrifying sounds represented pure bloodlust, madness, and brutality all joined together and then unleash in a single tidal wave of noise. The spiritual pressure they brought alone was enough to shake even the deepest parts of one’s soul.
What sort of terrifying creatures could possibly make such hideous sounds? Cloudhawk stared from his position in the walls, and he was able to vaguely make out something. A large number of short, stooped black figures were advancing at high speeds under the moonlight. They had pairs of dark green eyes that blazed like abyssal fire, and they brought a completely different aura to the biting cold of the night!
What in the world were these things?! Just as Cloudhawk was wondering this question to himself, one of the bow-wielding outpost archers who was standing with bow drawn in one of the archery parapets let out a terrified shout. “Oh, shit. ROTWOLVES!!”
“Fuck, fuck! I can’t even count the number of rotwolves!”
Every single outpost soldier was a carefully selected elite warrior. They were reliable in both personal power as well as mental fortitude, but when faced with such a terrifying sight even people as strong as them couldn’t help but quaver when they spoke, revealing the horror that they felt. As for the squads of irregulars? They were even more terrified.
“The wastelands are filled with those rotwolves.”
“Oh my God… we are all doomed.”
“There’s no way we can beat that many rotwolves. Everyone, run for your lives!”
The motley crew of irregulars captained by Lain almost immediately began to break down. Rotwolves were enormous mutant wolves that roamed the wastelands, and they were named that way because their flesh was so putrid and poisonous that there was no way to consume. Most normal mutabeasts weighed around eighty kilograms, but rotwolves didn’t seem to have an upper weight limit. There had even been sightings of enormous rotwolves that weighed five or six hundred kilograms!
These particular mutabeasts were not only brutal, they were also extremely crafty. Every ordinary rotwolf would be a match for two or three ordinary outpost guards in power, but tonight at least seven or eight hundred rotwolves had already appeared. Things were looking very grim. No one knew how many more rotwolves were lying in wait. Even if there really were just eight hundred, it would be a calamity for the outpost!
Captain Lain had clearly never expected for the situation to be this grim either. His face paled slightly, and his sword-wielding hand was starting to tremble, but he still spoke out in his hoarse voice to calm his men. “Just a few hundred wolves, while we have several thousand warriors. The hell are you all afraid of? Man up!”
But who could possibly maintain their calm in a situation like this? Although the outpost held thousands of warriors and was protected by a defensive perimeter, who could guarantee that front-line soldiers like them would be able to survive? More and more soldiers started to move to flee.
“Archers!” Captain Lain was able to tell that the situation was about to spiral out of patrol. He immediately lifted his sword high into the air, and the six archers behind him immediately drew their bows. The archers on the watchtowers all turned towards him as well. “Kill them!”
Cloudhawk could clearly hear the bowstrings twanging. The first wave of arrows weren’t aimed at the beasts outside; they were actually aimed at the fleeing warriors within the outpost. Twang! Twang! Twang! Several fleeing soldiers let out miserable cries as they fell to the ground. As for the archers, they once more nocked their bows and aimed the cruel arrowheads towards the others.
“That’s what happens to deserters!” Captain Lain’s hoarse voice rang out in everyone’s ears. “If Blackflag Outpost is destroyed, do you really think you’ll be able to find another place to live? Hell, without Blackflag Outpost, will any of you even be able to survive these wastelands? Pick up your damn weapons. We live or die with the outpost!”
Faced with those taut bowstrings, everyone had no choice but to acquiesce silently. As for Cloudhawk, he felt a degree of respect for Captain Lain. He truly was a valiant and charismatic warrior, and his words were spot on – once Blackflag Outpost fell, would they ever be able to find another place like it?
He might not love this place, but this wasn’t the time to leave it! He’d rather die than end up a wastelands scavenger once more! Cloudhawk tightened his grip around his shortsword. He had decided to defend the outpost to the bitter end.
Captain Lain’s methods proved to be quite effective in quelling the chaotic situation. He split up the regular soldiers and inserted them throughout his troops, as he knew exactly how unreliable his irregulars were. Not only could his regular soldiers help to smooth out the average level of strength in each section, they would also be able to serve as his supervisory sergeants once battle began.
The wolf pack was moving closer and closer to the outpost. The night was filled with their long, drawn-out howls. Even the earth was shaking slightly as the crazed, bloodthirsty wolves advanced like a foul wind, and it was as though a dark haze had appeared around the hearts of the men who saw them.
“They are about to attack!”
“Shoot them down!”
The wolves in the pack were actually quite dispersed. Several of the agility metahumans in the vanguard were the first ones to act.
Cloudhawk immediately heard a few sparse gunshots blasting out in the night air, accompanied with the whistling howls of arrows being shot out. Quite a few agonized howls emerged from the wolf pack. Apparently, a number of the rotwolves had been hit.
However, attacks on this level simply were ineffective in serving as a deterrent. In fact, when the beasts smelled the blood and pain emanating from their fellows, they seemed to be spurred into an even greater frenzy. The howls of the wolf pack only grew increasingly fierce. The battle was about to erupt!
Captain Lain commanded his soldiers, “Fire in volleys and don’t stop! Rotwolves don’t have wings. Keep them outside our perimeter!”
Cloudhawk was extremely tense. It was just a group of wild animals, right? Nothing bad would happen. Nothing bad would happen! The outpost had sturdy defenses and had countless experts defending it. It also had…
Cloudhawk wasn’t even able to finish his self-comforting thought before a terrified, despairing voice rang out right next to him!
“LOOK! The skies!”
“What’s that in the skies?!”
The moonlight was being blotted out by what looked like stormclouds. When Cloudhawk unconsciously lifted up his head to stare into the skies, his irises immediately shrank. No… those were no stormclouds. Those were teeming masses of flying creatures who were moving at incredible speeds!
Cloudhawk was only able to see countless pairs of red eyes flashing in the night sky. Judging from their silhouettes, he could just barely tell that they seemed to be enormous bat-like creatures. Just as the wave of rotwolves hit the outside perimeter, the strange winged creatures dove down from the skies like a tidal wave which could not be defended against. They struck down like thunderbolts upon the outpost guards, and they also struck like thunderbolts against the outpost morale.
“Danger! Lie down!” It was unclear as to who called these words out, and it didn’t really matter; anyone who encountered a situation like this would almost instinctively lie down. Cloudhawk felt as though a gale blew past his head, and the entire world seemed to be filled with the sound of flapping wings.
“Aaaah!” One of the soldiers on the watchtower was knocked into the air. Even as he was falling to the ground, around twenty black shadows flashed past his body and clawed at him with incomprehensible speed, with each tearing away a section of his body. His body seemed to be as flimsy as wet tissue; in the five short seconds of his fall, over twenty strips of flesh were torn off his body as bits of blood and gore flew everywhere. He screamed in misery as his blood and flesh flew everywhere… and then he slammed to the ground with a thud.
The person landed ahead of Cloudhawk. When Cloudhawk was able to see what he now looked like, he felt a sense of frozen terror within the depths of his very soul. Almost all of the man’s flesh was gone, and his ribs were all clearly visible. The organs had been ripped out of his stomach, and his face had been torn asunder as well. He was completely unrecognizable.
Possibly because this had happened so quickly, the poor bastard was somehow still alive despite having been absolutely maimed and disfigured. A gurgling sound could be heard from his throat, and his hands and legs were trembling as though he was trying to climb to his feet.
A few seconds ago, he was a hale and hearty man. Who could believe that this would happen to him in just a few seconds? What a calamity!
The strange, giant bats were circling in the air above the outpost. Each wing was over 1.5 metres long, and they had hawk-like claws and sharp beaks that were as dangerous as razors. The outpost was filled with miserable screams as many people suffered injuries in a twinkling.
This was a type of bloodthirsty animal that loved to eat carrion! They often followed the scent of the rotwolf pack. These two different types of mutabeasts, however, would not engage in direct combat with each other. Rather, they would generally reach a tacit agreement to jointly attack certain targets.
Just as Cloudhawk rose to his feet and took two steps forwards, a giant bat dove downwards towards him at high speed, raking at him with those sharp claws. Sensing the impending danger, Cloudhawk once more fell to the ground, and the giant bat scraped right above him.
It was raining blood in the area around him, with a few chunks of meat and skin landing every so often. The warriors on the watchtower who were responsible for shooting down the wolves were almost instantly ripped to shreds and broken apart, with all of them dying to the sudden attacks from the giant bats.
They were finished! Cloudhawk’s heart sunk into despair. With the mutated bats launching aerial raids and disrupting their back lines, there was no way the outpost could mobilize their archers and gunners to attack the wolves from afar. As for the hundreds of powerful rotwolves, once they charged into the outpost they would deliver an absolutely destructive blow to the defenders!
What were they to do? What were they to do?!
Cloudhawk stared at the silhouettes dancing through the chaos. Finally, he understood how weak any individual person was in a war. Not even Slyfox or Mad Dog would be able to do anything at a time like this, to say nothing of him!