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Chapter 20 – A Near Escape

 Chapter 20 - A Near Escape

After Captain Lain was killed, his corpse was tossed by the alpha rotwolf to one side like garbage. Several of the other rotwolves charged forward to fight over the body, eventually tearing it into quite a few pieces.

It was a truly unimaginable sight. Just a short while ago, he was a hale and hearty warrior. Now, he had become nothing more than bits of blood, bone, and gore that had been scattered across the ground.

One could imagine how heavy a mental blow this was to Cloudhawk. More and more rotwolves were pouring in, and they were uniformly superb in every way; they were strong, they were fast, they were vicious, and they were clever. They were true killers! Soon, the entire defensive line had been breached in so many locations that it didn't even look like a military formation at all.

"Stop running. You won't be able to escape!" Cloudhawk could sense that everything was spiraling completely out of control. He called out frantically, "Fight them to the bitter end, otherwise all of us are gonna die!"

The humans still held an advantage in numbers. If they could band together, they wouldn't necessarily be defeated! Running was of no use; how could two legs possibly run faster than four?

Cloudhawk had already noticed that the sly, vicious rotwolves delighted in chasing down lone stragglers and individuals who were fleeing; pouncing strikes from behind seemed to have a high chance of success. Alas, nobody paid Cloudhawk any heed; they all continued to flee in terror, becoming nothing more than prey for the rotwolves.

By now, Cloudhawk could no longer see any hope at all. Gritting his teeth, he rose upwards and was about to charge towards one of the rotwolves. But right at this moment, a shrill screech rang out! A giant bat was dive-bombing towards Cloudhawk, and its eagle-like claws ripped straight towards Cloudhawk's face. If this strike landed, the claws would definitely tear through it as if it was parchment.

Alert to the danger, Cloudhawk immediately halted and began to back peddle, but the giant bat relentlessly pursued after him. Its two claws landed on Cloudhawk's shoulders, tearing through his skin and latching onto his flesh. The giant bat then began to flap its wings, hard; if it was able to once more fly into the skies, the terrifying power from its claws would at very least rip two massive chunks of flesh from Cloudhawk's shoulders.

"Fuck off!" Cloudhawk let out a furious roar as he hacked the bat's left wing off with his sword, then slammed it to the ground. He held his shortsword in a reverse double-grip as he repeatedly stabbed downwards towards the bat's head. A large amount of foul blood came pouring out, and the bat quickly stopped moving after a few initial struggles.

The one-eyed alpha rotwolf turned its attention towards Cloudhawk, its attention instantly focused onto the unremarkable, half-grown boy. It bared its sharp fangs, blood and saliva slowly dripping out of its maw. Within the past minute, it had used those fangs to crunch and destroy at least six or seven heads. Now, it had located the eighth!

The alpha rotwolf flew into the air, moving with an explosive amount of speed that was completely at odds with its huge form. But just as the alpha rotwolf rose into the air to deliver its furious strike, Cloudhawk's alert senses warned him of the impending danger.

This thing had destroyed even Captain Lain! How could Cloudhawk possibly defeat such a savage beast?

The alpha rotwolf's mouth was already beginning to froth with its highly corrosive acid spit. However, it now had much less compared to the last two times it had used the spit. The alpha rotwolf was probably running low on its acid spit, or perhaps it felt like there was no need to use too much against such a weak target. It moved with incredible speed, kicking up a huge cloud of dirt behind it as it launched itself like an arrow at Cloudhawk.

Cloudhawk tossed his shortsword straight towards the alpha rotwolf while he threw himself sideways, but of course the toss was completely useless.

Cloudhawk could sense a fiery pain coming from his back as the massive bulk of the creature flew over him. Most likely, a few drops of saliva had dripped onto his back, but it felt as though he had been dipped in strong acid. And this had been just a few drops! No wonder Captain Lain had almost instantly been crippled by a full-on blast of the creature's spit!

The alpha rotwolf turned with preternatural grace and speed, then once more leapt for Cloudhawk. The creature was too close! No matter how Cloudhawk dodged, there was no way he could possibly avoid this strike.

Cloudhawk knew very well that he would die as soon as he was knocked down; there would be no recovering from that at all. His head would be torn off and crunched like a melon, his body would be ripped into shreds, and his intestines would be dragged out. He would be transformed into a pile of gore and bloody mush!

I can't die here!

Cloudhawk thought back to the nightmare he had his first night in the outpost. He hadn't become powerful yet, hadn't escaped the wastelands yet, hadn't realized his dreams yet. How could he possibly accept such a meaningless, pathetic death? All these thoughts flashed through his mind in an instant.

A surge of insane courage suddenly flooded into Cloudhawk, and he reacted almost by instinct. If he was going to die, no matter what, then he was going to die fighting. His legs came to a sudden halt, the momentum of his earlier movements continuing to propel him forwards and causing his feet to 'skid' through the muddy ground. While fighting to maintain his balance, Cloudhawk pulled out that silver revolver from by his side with his right hand.

During the past month with the Tartarus mercenaries, Cloudhawk had often helped the mercenaries maintain their firearms. He had never, however, had the chance to use one himself. This was his very first time using a pistol... and yet, it felt so very familiar.

Cloudhawk felt as though his mind had reached out through his body and extended into the gun itself. He could clearly sense every tiny part and every molded line with perfect clarity, almost as though the revolver was part of his own body. It was like his eyes, his arms, or his legs; he was able to control it with absolute mastery.

Cloudhawk could clearly sense that his body was transforming. Every single pore in his body was tightening and contracting, and every single muscle group was moving in concert to prepare for this upcoming shot.

This was what it felt like to be a control metahuman. Control metahumans were able to perfectly control their bodies as well as any weapons they were wielding. These types of metahumans often preferred to use complicated technological weapons, such as various types of firearms. Thus far, the most powerful control metahuman which Cloudhawk had ever met was Slyfox. He was able to use those two modified pistols to hit bull's-eyes from a hundred meters away without even aiming.

Cloudhawk wasn't as formidable as Slyfox... but given how close the target was and how large it was, he felt certain he should be able to hit it! He had only one bullet. Everything rested on this shot!

Cloudhawk could clearly sense that when he raised his revolver and aimed it at the alpha rotwolf, the alpha rotwolf's body trembled slightly as it immediately began to adjust itself to avoid the shot.

As expected, this incredibly dangerous mutabeast possessed a keen sense of danger. However, Cloudhawk felt as though he could predict what the alpha rotwolf's response would be, and he immediately made some minute adjustments with the tip of his revolver to compensate.

The giant rotwolf could sense the invisible specter of death hanging over its head, causing it to feel fear for the first time. And yet, this feeling of fear further fueled the creature's savage aggression, and it let out an enraged howl as it leapt forwards.

Either it would die, or its prey would die!

This was a moment of life and death, but Cloudhawk actually became incredibly calm and focused. His fingers were steady as they gently closed around the trigger, and he could sense everything with perfect clarity, from the barrel of the gun to its handle, then to the fingers gripping the gun and the rest of his body.

He pulled the trigger of the gun, causing the hammer to fall down at high speeds and slam into the gunpowder behind the bullet. The gunpowder was successfully set alight, and the bullet's shell casing instantly expanded explosively, pushing the bullet out of the barrel at tremendous speeds!

CRACK! A single bullet flew out like flames from the barrel of the gun!

The bullet tore a path through the air... then hit the alpha rotwolf in its one remaining eye with incomprehensible accuracy. In slow-motion, the bullet shattered through its cornea, bored through its vitreous, severed its optic nerves, and then smashed straight into the creature's brain, reducing the brain-matter inside its skull to a pile of mush.

Cloudhawk's skidding legs finally came to a halt, while the massive body of the alpha rotwolf came crashing to the ground in front of him. Its body was still twitching as what little consciousness it had left tried to will it to its feet, as though it wanted to leap up once more and tear Cloudhawk to shreds. Alas, there was no way it could ever rise again.

This took time to describe, but in reality it happened in an instant!

Cloudhawk stared in disbelief at the hill-sized corpse in front of him. He could hardly believe that he had actually slain this monster with his revolver. But before he even had a chance to savor the feeling of snatching life from the jaws of death, a feeling of incredible exhaustion overwhelmed him and caused him to slump downwards. It was as though he had poured all of his energy into that shot, and now he had nothing left.

With the alpha rotwolf dead, the other rotwolves began to let out mournful howls, and their frenzied morale seemed to take a sudden hit. However, this was nothing more than a temporary lull. Given how brutal these mutabeasts were, they wouldn't retreat even if their alpha perished. Instead, all of those oily green gazes turned to focus on the murderer who had just slain their alpha. Those dozens of ferocious glares were like dozens of swords that stabbed into Cloudhawk's heart.

Cloudhawk didn't even have the chance to catch his breath before the wolves began to move in unison. Dozens of the incredibly muscular rotwolves all began to charge towards a single target: Him! This was an incredible sight to behold. Cloudhawk was completely defenseless and had no weapons left, but even if he was both armed and as powerful as Mad Dog he still wouldn't be able to deal with dozens of rotwolves at the same time.

Cloudhawk began to run. He wanted to pick up his shortsword and fight back, because he didn't want to give up... but as soon as he started to run, a muscular rotwolf slammed into his back with the power of a sledgehammer, knocking him to the ground and sending him rolling through the mud. The rotwolf used its paws to keep him pressed down to the ground, then began to deliver a lethal bite to Cloudhawk's neck.

Cloudhawk really had reached the end of the line! He frantically tried to struggle, but was completely unable to overcome this beast's raw physical strength. He could smell his own death from the rotwolf's open maw, and could already sense the rotwolf's sharp teeth tearing through his skin.

But right at this desperate moment, Cloudhawk suddenly heard a familiar roar ring out right next to him. A black silhouette had shot out at lightning speed, then barreled straight into the rotwolf and sent it flying. The black silhouette and the rotwolf began to tear and bite at each other on the ground, and in the end the black silhouette managed to tear the rotwolf's throat out. It was simply too fast for the rotwolves! It then transformed into a streak of black lightning as it threw itself towards yet another one of the rotwolves which was about to pounce upon Cloudhawk.

"WOOLA?!" This creature had always spent its time chasing after Cloudhawk and biting him in the posterior for amusement. Woola gorged itself on human meat and had an absolutely violent temper... and yet, for the first time Cloudhawk felt as though it was absolutely adorable.

It had to have been Slyfox or Mad Dog who had sent Woola over! Woola's senses were incredibly acute, allowing it to locate the missing Cloudhawk through scent alone. It really did appear right on time; if it had been just a second too slow, the only thing it would've found was Cloudhawk's corpse.

Although Woola was nothing more than a watchdog which the mercenaries had raised, it was even stronger in battle than Captain Lain. Its six legs gave it explosive speed when running, letting it move even faster than mutated panthers. As for its shark-like teeth, they were like death razors that could tear through even iron sheets with ease.

In a short while, it had killed four of the rotwolves!

Woola instantly drew the attention of many of the rotwolves, who realized that this savage beast was a danger and immediately began to surround and assault it. Although Woola was very powerful, there was no way it could possibly defeat so many of those savage rotwolves.

Cloudhawk picked up his fallen shortsword, then screamed at the surrounding men, "What the fuck are you guys staring at? Get over here and help!" But none of the men moved to intervene. None of them wanted to interfere in a fight between animals.

Woola was currently fighting at least five wolves at the same time, with many other wolves circling and prowling around him, biding their time. Woola's skin had already been bit open in four or five places, and blood was flowing across its body. The situation was extremely dire.

Screw it. Time to go all out!

Cloudhawk disliked Woola. In fact, the two had never gotten along well at all, and the creature had bullied him nonstop in the mercenary base. And yet, Cloudhawk's way of thinking was quite simple; Woola had only fallen into such dire straits because it had come to rescue him. If Cloudhawk abandoned Woola and fled, not only would the other mercenaries scorn him, even Cloudhawk would look down upon himself!