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Chapter 26 – Life and Death in the Balance

 Chapter 26 - Life and Death in the Balance

The knife merely nicked Slyfox in the neck; it didn't actually sever his head from the rest of his body. This was because, right at the critical moment, the mysterious man's acute hearing picked up an incredibly soft, whistling sound. He was completely unprepared for the two cold knives that whistled through the air as they shot straight towards him.

This was a pair of long, slender, and sharp scalpels. One of the scalpels shot towards the man's chest, while the other one was aimed directly at his forehead. There were absolutely no flaws in the speed, timing, or execution of this attack. The most terrifying thing of all was that it seemed as though the two scalpels had appeared out of nowhere! Even someone as incredibly perceptive as the mysterious man was completely unable to tell who it was who had launched this attack at him.

If the mysterious man had stubbornly persisted with his attempt to decapitate the gunner, there would have been no way for him to escape these two strikes. It might've been possible for him to make slight adjustments to ensure that the scalpels didn't hit him in any critical areas, but when he saw the glistening, slick blue light covering the blade he immediately abandoned this notion.

This was an absolutely deadly attack... and from start to finish, the man still had no clue as to who had launched this attack. The mysterious man had held thirty percent of his power in reserve in this battle, which was the right choice to make. That way, if something unexpected happened, he would have enough power left to keep himself safe. However, the lethal strike he had aimed at the gunner was with all the speed and power he could muster.

In other words, the mysterious man himself was in an extremely vulnerable situation for a short instant. Although the moment was brief... an old, experienced, and deadly assassin would always be ready for the perfect moment to strike. And how could such a deadly assassin possibly forego using poison for such a critical strike?

Both scalpels had been smeared with powerful nerve-numbing agents. Even if they didn't strike any fatal points, the slightest nick from them would be enough to ensure that he would instantly lose the majority of his combat strength. This was far too dangerous. He simply couldn't afford to take the risk!

And so the mysterious man suddenly halted his advance, his long knives nicking Slyfox on the neck as they swung back to block the scalpels. The mysterious man's sea-dark eyes once more began to turn... but he still had no idea where the assassin was hiding.

Swoosh! Swoosh! Another pair of sharp scalpels came flying towards him. This time, however, even Cloudhawk saw a figure moving at high speed in launching the attack, to say nothing of the mysterious man. When Cloudhawk saw who it was, his eyes almost bulged out of their sockets.

No wonder he hadn't seen Mantis this entire time!

Cloudhawk had thought that Mantis was not taking part in the fight. So as it turned out, Mantis had been concealing himself amongst the other mercenaries! When he had been concealing himself, not even Cloudhawk had the slightest inkling that he was present; in fact, Cloudhawk hadn't even noticed that they numbered one more person than usual. And... the entire reason why Mantis had hidden himself in the area around Slyfox in a shadow-like manner was precisely so that he could deal with a situation like this!

As Mantis threw out two more flying scalpels at high speed and the mysterious man began to pull back, Mantis suddenly somersaulted to the other side with incredible speed. A dark blue dagger gleamed with cold light as it pierced towards the mysterious man! It was a fast, steady, and merciless attack!

The speed which Mantis had just displayed was every bit as fast as the already-deceased Wulf had possessed. He was in full control of the tempo of this fight, and this strike was pitch-perfect as well. Not even a heartbeat had passed since the mysterious man had knocked the second pair of scalpels aside, but now a deadly, envenomed blue dagger was right before his very eyes.

This new assailant was incredibly dangerous! The mysterious man had been battling for quite some time, but for the first time he felt as though he was being stalked by a viper. If this dagger nicked him even slightly, it would unquestionably deliver a mortal, death-dealing blow to Mantis. The mysterious man sent the edge of his long knife scraping against the dagger, causing a line of sparks to erupt in midair, then spun the other way as he delivered a whirling slash towards Mantis. However, Mantis didn't hesitate at all as he leapt backwards with incredible speed and agility, borrowing from the momentum of the clash.

An assassin's paramount rule was to succeed in killing the target with one attack. If you failed, your goal would be to immediately retreat safely. This was a fundamental rule of being an assassin!

The mysterious man's attack missed, but before he had a chance to recover a cold, sinister, murderous look flashed through Slyfox's eyes. In truth, this entire thing had been a plot! The gunner had intentionally let the mysterious man draw close, allowing the assassin to launch a series of deadly strikes. Now that the mysterious man's offensive rhythm had been completely disrupted, flaws in his movements had been revealed.

It actually wasn't the assassin's responsibility to actually kill this man. Slyfox had been waiting for the perfect moment this entire time... and now, he still had one bullet left. Given the situation and given how close they were, how could he possibly miss?

The process might sound complicated, but it happened incredibly fast. Mantis had thrown out four scalpels, catching the mysterious man completely off-guard and disrupting his rhythm, then launched a deadly strike that forced the man to reveal a fatal flaw in his defenses. This entire process had taken less than two seconds! This was more than enough time for Slyfox to fire the perfect shot.


The final bullet burst forth with a tendril of flame from the barrel of the revolver. The mysterious had to admit that these people were tough. Very tough. They could definitely be described as some of the top experts of the wastelands. However... it wasn't enough. The man's body suddenly seemed to expand in size, almost as though all of his muscles instantly became many times larger than before. He instantly unleashed 120% of his full power!

As soon as Slyfox had fired his gun, the mysterious man leapt into the air, used one long knife to block the bullet, then once more stabbed out with the other one towards Slyfox, sending that cold blade directly towards his heart!

Everyone was stunned by this. Not only was he able to block the attack, he was even able to counter-attack in midair?

Slyfox was out of bullets. Mantis wasn't in a position to stop the attack.

A hint of a mocking smile appeared on the mysterious man's face as his cold knife inched closer and closer towards Slyfox's chest. He was about to finally kill this dangerous gunner, once and for all... but right at this moment, something happened which caught him completely off-guard. An skinny, unprepossessing little figure suddenly popped up from behind Slyfox's back. The kid was clutching a shotgun in his hands, and the black barrel was pointed straight at the mysterious man.

Slyfox let out a fierce shout. "SHOOT HIM!"

When the mysterious man's attention had been focused on the two experts before him, the ordinary-looking Cloudhawk had seized the opportunity to hide himself directly behind Slyfox. Cloudhawk knew that if he wanted a chance to shoot and kill this man, the position he had just chosen was the perfect position to be in. And now... his opportunity had come!

The mysterious man's body was in the middle of the air. No warrior, no matter how powerful, would be able to find any leverage to dodge while in midair. In addition, the two were extremely close to each other! The mysterious man's knife was about to kiss Slyfox's clothes, which meant that he had all but sent himself directly into the waiting barrel of the shotgun.

Cloudhawk pulled the trigger.


Countless steel pellets blasted forth. A dispersed shotgun blast was difficult to dodge in any situation, much less in midair. The mysterious man's black cloak was completely torn to shreds as he himself was knocked three or meters backwards from the force of the blow. He tumbled to the ground, rolling a few times before he came to a halt face-down as streams of blood began to flow from his body.

They had finished him! Everyone revealed looks of excitement and exhilaration!

"Not bad, kid!"

"Well done!"


The mercenaries all called out in celebration, and even Woola let out a few congratulatory howls. As for the sweepers, strange looks appeared on their faces. They had never imagined that anyone would be able to defeat their boss!

In truth, less than a minute had passed since the cloaked figure had first started his charge towards Slyfox. This had all happened so quickly that there was no way ordinary people could even respond. As for the mercenaries, there was obviously no way that they could've planned this out in advance. This had all happened purely out of a silent, instinctive rapport.

If Mantis had been just a heartbeat slower, Slyfox would've been hacked to death. If Slyfox hadn't left one final bullet for the very end or had hesitated for just a half-second after Mantis launched his attack, then his shot wouldn't have been able to force the man to jump into the air to dodge. And if Cloudhawk had been just slightly slower in firing his shotgun, all of that previous effort would have gone to waste.

Thankfully, all of them had worked together with smooth, perfect coordination. In the end, they had finally dealt with that dangerous enemy.

Cloudhawk was panting furiously, his frayed nerves finally calming down. He could hardly believe what had just happened. Had the shot which killed the sweeper leader really come from his hands?

This feeling of life and death being separated by a thread... this feeling was fucking awesome!

But Slyfox and Mantis were completely composed. "Mad Dog once praised your combat instincts as being excellent!" For once, Slyfox said a few words of praise towards Cloudhawk. "Seems like he was tellin' the truth. I'm just happy you didn't waste all of the hard work I put into training you."

Hard work training me? You sonufabitch!

Cloudhawk was this close to cursing at the man. Still... now that the leader had been slain, the rest of the sweepers were nothing to worry about. The mercenaries and the elite guards were still ready to fight, and they held an overwhelming advantage in numbers. How could they possibly lose to freaks like this?

"Not bad at all."

Just as everyone was celebrating, a casual, cold voice suddenly rang out from the ground. Countless astonished gazes were instantly attracted to the mysterious man's 'corpse'... which was slowly, unhurriedly rising to its feet. "But in the end, you didn't quite get the job done."

The six remaining maneaters and dozens of thugs had already charged forwards, coming to a halt directly in front of their leader. As for the outpost forces, they withdrew as well. Both sides once more stared at each other from a short distance.

This was absolutely bizarre. Cloudhawk had definitely hit the man head-on! The man hadn't been wearing steel armor or other defensive equipment; otherwise, there was no way he could've moved with such speed and agility. How, then? How had he survived? Did he have an immortal body?

The mysterious man rose to his feet, his tattered cloak just barely hanging from his body. His face had previously been as pale as paper, but now a great deal of serpentine scales had appeared on its surface. Given that his strange eyes were completely pitch-black, he truly looked like an ominous creature.

The mysterious man tossed aside his tattered cloak, fully revealing his entire upper body. Although he wasn't as muscular as Mad Dog, his muscles were extremely toned and even, and they seemed to possess explosive, panther-like power. His skin, however, was almost abnormally pale... and his pale skin was completely covered with those slender scales that looked like the scales of a snake.

The shotgun pellets had blasted a large wound into his chest, and dozens of those steel pellets had clearly bored deep into his body. And yet... although the wound was frightening to behold, it was actually nothing more than a superficial flesh wound. The muscles around the pellets flexed slightly, and one bloodstained pellet after another began to pop out and fall to the ground.

Cloudhawk finally realized that this mutant's scales served as a form of protection for him. He also had an extremely high-level control metapower, and so had nearly perfect control over his power. As a result, as soon as the pellets blasted through his scales, he had immediately tightened the muscles locally around each pellet, ensuring that none of them were able to strike into his heart or his other important organs.

Cloudhawk had hit him with a perfect shot, but it was meaningless. A wound like this was no wound at all.

The outpost defenders had rather unpleasant looks on their faces. How many strange powers did this mysterious fellow have?

The mysterious man's gaze remained as calm and settled as ever. "It would be a waste to kill you. I suggest you abandon Blackflag Outpost and work for me instead. The entire wasteland belongs to us... and together, we can accomplish something grand!"

By now, everyone could tell that he still had yet to use his full power, even now! There were still more than 150 sweepers; their main combat power had been preserved. The outpost, however, had suffered horrendous casualties and didn't have much combat power left. The situation right now looked extremely grim.

Fire another shot? Cloudhawk knew his own limits. They had managed to catch the man off-guard once; there was no way the man would let it happen again! But right at this moment, a voice which Cloudhawk had never heard before suddenly rang out from afar.

"You want to poach guards from Blackflag Outpost? What makes you think I would agree to that?"