Chapter 21 – One Wave After Another
Cloudhawk lifted his shortsword up high, then charged straight into the fray! The people around him couldn’t help but feel flabbergasted; was the kid mad? Not even outpost guards would necessarily be able to beat rotwolves in one-on-one combat. This kid was fourteen or fifteen years old, whereas there were ten rotwolves circling around Woola. For him to charge into the mix was tantamount to suicide!
Although the kid had been lucky enough to shoot and kill the alpha rotwolf, he didn’t seem to be an especially skilled combatant. Two of the rotwolves noticed the human youth charging towards them, and they immediately leapt towards the arrogant, presumptuous creature.
This kid is dead! This was what everyone in the surrounding area was thinking.
Cloudhawk suddenly accelerated, shooting forwards like an arrow from a bow as he stabbed forwards with a double-handed blow. His shortsword stabbed straight into a rotwolf’s flank, and he then raised his leg and kicked the rotwolf away from him. As the second rotwolf leapt towards him, Cloudhawk delivered a punch right to the rotwolf’s head. His scrawny frame unleashed an entirely disproportionate amount of force as his punch actually smashed the rotwolf into the ground.
The rotwolf let out a few low yips as it immediately crawled to its feet, then slunk backwards. All of its hair was standing up straight, as though it had seen something that was utterly terrifying to it.
Both of Cloudhawk’s eyes were blood-red, and his veins were bulging out from his body. He seemed to have transformed into a completely difference person, and no one could believe that the amount of speed, strength, and viciousness he had just put on display belonged to a youth.
It was happening again! That strange thing was happening again! The stone hanging around Cloudhawk’s neck had once more turned scorchingly hot as the same thing which had happened all those nights ago began to occur once more. He seemed to have turned into a volcano, filled with fury, savagery, and violence. All sorts of destructive thoughts were flooding through his mind as the will within the strange stone was once more unleashed!
Cloudhawk could sense that things were different this time. He was actually able to stay fairly calm, whereas on that night he had nearly gone completely insane!
The wolf pack seemed to sense something, and all of them began to hesitate and retreat. Woola seized this opportunity to regroup by Cloudhawk’s side. Although his body was covered in wounds, he continued to roar savagely as he glared at the rotwolves. A half-grown youth and a highly mutated human… together, they had actually overawed and frightened a group of rotwolves!
But this wasn’t to last. The reason why the rotwolves were hesitating was because they could sense that Cloudhawk’s aura had changed. However, based on what they could see this human still didn’t pose much of a threat to them. As more rotwolves leapt over the ramparts and replenished their ranks, the group instantly regained their morale.
“There’s just too many of them. We can’t beat them!” Cloudhawk could sense that the surge of power which the stone had given him was receding like the waters of the tide and disappearing at high speed. He immediately said to Woola, “Run!” Woola just growled in response; it was unclear if he even understood what Cloudhawk was saying.
Cloudhawk knew that given his current speed, it would be very difficult for him to outrun the rotwolves. The rotwolves had hesitated for a few seconds, but now they once more charged straight towards him… but right at this moment, the sound of an engine revving could be heard directly behind him.
Multiple riders appeared within his field of vision, and in front of them was a wastelander-retrofitted motorcycle. As for the others, they were riding on giant lizards or bigfoot birds, and they all wielded heavy hacking machetes. They charged over at high speeds, slamming into the line of attacking rotwolves and knocking several of them flying.
A lucky survivor cried out in surprise and delight, “An elite squad!”
This was a squad of the most elite and best-trained guards in the entire outpost, with every single member being a top-tier expert. The deceased Captain Lain had been a member of this elite squad, and the man known as ‘Grizzly’ was one of the squad captains.
The leader of the mounted riders, however, was not Grizzly. Instead, it was a short-haired, energetic youth whose name was ‘Wulf’. He was the second captain of the elite squad, and definitely one of the most skilled experts in the outpost.
“What the hell happened here?!” Wulf scanned the surrounding area. The first thing which drew his attention was the corpse of the alpha rotwolf on the ground. Next, he stared at Cloudhawk with a rather strange look in his eyes, followed by a glance at Woola. Clearly, he recognized Woola. “You belong to Tartarus? Did you kill this alpha wolf? And where the hell is that idiot Lain?!”
Cloudhawk had yet to recover from his state of shock. He nodded almost instinctively and said, “He’s spread across the ground. I’m not sure which chunk belongs to him!” These were completely innocent words, but to the elite squad it sounded rather mocking. The Tartarus mercenaries were all quite formidable, and they had often tussled and competed against the elite squad.
Lain was Wulf’s subordinate, but had been slain. This young mercenary, however, had survived. How could Wulf possibly smile upon hearing this news? He let out a snort, a cold look on his face!
Right at this moment, a rotwolf began to slink towards them, hoping to launch a sneak attack. Wulf threw his knife out, sending it piercing through the rotwolf and pinning it to the ground. He then hopped off the wastelands motorcycle in a rather crude way, then swooped past the corpse of the rotwolf like an eagle, using his feet to help him tug out the knife. Then, a wind of flashing, electric blades began to blow through the rotwolf, cutting through every part of it as easily as cutting vegetables.
What an impressive weapon and skill! Was this the power of one of the elite captains?
The other elite squads joined the fray as well. One particularly strong man grabbed a rotwolf by its jaws, using his raw power to resist the rotwolf’s biting power, then forcibly tore the rotwolf apart from the mouth with his bare hands. He then casually tossed the rotwolf’s corpse to one side like so much garbage. The ordinary members of the elite squads were all as strong as Lain had been!
The rotwolf pack had first lost its alpha, then had been driven back repeatedly by the elite squad’s attacks. Only ten or so were remaining, and they turned and fled with their tails behind their legs.
“All clear!” Elite Captain Wulf was in no mood to piece together and collect Lain’s corpse. “Let’s go reinforce the other areas!” The elite squad departed.
CLoudhawk’s life had been saved. He stared at the devastated battlefield, then let out a long breath. The price they had paid for victory here had been an enormous one. Suddenly, Cloudhawk noticed that Woola was sniffing around one of the corpses and pawing at it. “Woola, what are you doing?!”
Woola quickly found the object it was looking for. It returned, holding a blood and gore-splattered shotgun in its mouth which it delivered to Cloudhawk. The shotgun had been badly corroded, but it was probably still serviceable. Cloudhawk was delighted by this discovery and began to search the area as well, only to discover a number of shotgun shells in one of the pouches worn by an outpost guard.
Perfect! He never would’ve imagined that he would win such a great prize from this melee.
A few dozen lucky survivors stood nearby, rather odd looks in their eyes. They stared unblinkingly at the shotgun in Cloudhawk’s hands, unable to disguise their greed and envy.
“And what the hell do you think you are looking at?!” Cloudhawk slung the shotgun over his back, then pulled out his revolver and waved it a few times, a savage expression on his face. “Y’all better pretend you saw nothing! If you say a word, I’ll waste your sorry asses with my bullets!” Woola very obligingly let out a growl of support as well.
After having spent so much time with the mercenaries, Cloudhawk had unconsciously begun to pick up their manner of talking. In this era, talking reason was absolutely meaningless. The most effective method was to issue naked threats.
By now, no one dared to underestimate the skinny little kid. The way he had shot and killed the alpha rotwolf with a single bullet had stunned everyone present. Without question, all of these people viewed this young kid, seemingly thirteen or fourteen years old, as an extremely powerful expert. They wouldn’t be so foolish as to try and steal something from someone so powerful. That would be suicide! And of course, Woola was a legendarily ferocious creature that everyone in Blackflag Outpost knew about!
Cloudhawk had been bullied by others all his life. Back in the ruins, the scar-faced man had bullied him; here in the outpost, both the mercenaries and the red-nosed innkeeper had bullied him. Now, when he saw the looks of fear in the eyes of those around him, he felt a strange feeling in his heart.
Holy shit. Bullying others is really fun!
Blackflag Outpost’s walls had been breached in six or seven places, and roughly three or four hundred rotwolves had charged inside. The battle persisted for two more hours, and more than half of the rotwolves were injured or killed before they were finally beaten back. As for the giant bats, they left after eating their fill at this ‘feast’.
The outpost had suffered extremely heavy losses due to this beast wave. It suffered more than 1500 casualties, the vast majority of whom were active, able-bodied fighters. More than a hundred of the outpost guards had been wiped out as well. Clearly, the overall power of Blackflag Outpost had suffered quite a bit.
Nobody dared to relax or to stop being vigilant. Who knew if the crafty rotwolves might decide to launch a sudden second attack? As a result, that very night they cleared the battlefield and began to repair the breached ramparts.
This battle truly had not been worth it. Rotwolve corpses were worth almost nothing, aside from the fur which could be used to make warm clothes. All their other parts were completely useless! Rotwolf meat was completely inedible; not only was it highly sour and reeked of decay, it was also poisonous. Blackflag Outpost had paid an enormous price to win this battle, but there were no spoils to be shared at all.
Cloudhawk huffed and puffed as he ran over to the Tartarus mercenaries. Slyfox took a long, hard puff on his cigarette, blew out a cloud of smoke, then let loose a verbal barrage. “Fuck, where the fuck were you hiding? I thought you were dead, son! Oho, and it looks like you picked up a little something as well.”
Cloudhawk’s shotgun had attracted the attention of the mercenaries. Only a few of these weapons existed in the outpost. Without a doubt, the kid had picked it up somewhere on the battlefield. Judging from the wounds over his body, the kid had unquestionably been in a bloody battle of his own.
The Tartarus company had lost two people as well. They were one of the most elite squads of Blackflag Outpost, and so the lost of ‘just’ two people would have a significant impact on the outpost on a whole. Mad Dog and Slyfox were both drenched in blood; clearly, the two had been in an extremely vicious battle as well. But now, the dust had finally settled. It was over.
Cloudhawk stared towards the pearly-white clouds in the eastern skies. “Has the beast wave ended?”
“It’s almost dawn.” Slyfox seemed to be in a rather foul mood. He had lost several subordinates, after all. “Rotwolves never fight in broad daylight. We’ve endured this wave, at least.”
The rosy light of the rising sun slowly began to appear, bringing peace and calm back to the world. Everyone had battled for an entire night, and they were all completely exhausted. But just as they were all preparing to retire for some rest, something completely unexpected happened. Yet another black mass appeared off in the distance as a large group of unknown creatures began to move towards the direction of Blackflag Outpost.
“Hey. HEY! Are you sure about what you said?” Cloudhawk called out hurriedly, “Didn’t you say the rotwolves wouldn’t come back?”
“No way.” A completely befuddled look was on Slyfox’s face. There was no way his past experiences could’ve misled him. Rotwolves never launched large-scale attacks during the day!
One of the mercenaries used a pair of binoculars to stare off into the distance. Moments later, he called out loudly, “Those aren’t rotwolves!”
Not rotwolves? What were they then?! Slowly, the silhouettes of the creatures became clearer as they moved in from the desert wastelands. It really didn’t look like a beast wave! Judging from their speed and the amount of sand they kicked up, they seemed like… a motorcade? One that was advancing at high speeds.
“Oh my God.”
“That’s a sweeper battalion!”
Someone began to scream in shock, and the faces of Slyfox, Mad Dog, and the other mercenaries instantly tightened. “FUCK! Were those motherfuckers waiting this entire time for the right moment?” Mad Dog immediately rose to his feet. “Blackflag Outpost was weakened by last night’s beast wave. Now these fuckers are attacking, right on cue. These fuckers really are smart, I have to give them that!”
Cloudhawk had no idea what was about to happen. However, judging from the faces of the outpost guards and the mercenaries, the situation was even grimmer than when they faced a beast wave last night. In fact… it seemed as though this would become a true life-and-death battle.
What was going on? One wave of problems after another… when would it end?!