Chapter 24 Entering the Fray

Charge! Smash! Charge again! Smash again!

The maneaters swept their giant warhammers through the ranks of the defenders, causing absolute carnage. Each swing launched a wave of blood and gore, sending unrecognizably mangled bits of bone and flesh across the battlefield.

The sweeper thugs held their iron shields high, maintaining that steel shieldwall as their great war-axes hacked down one warrior after another like scythes through wheat. As for the sweeper cavalry on the two sides, they moved to circle behind the outpost defenders and attack from the two wings, pressuring them on their sides. The sweeper archers and gunners sent out continuous, long-distance volleys to maintain control over the battlefield.

The number of sweepers was fairly low, but they were completely crushing the outpost warriors on the battlefield. Compared to these powerful mutants, the human guards had no advantages at all in this fight.

Cloudhawk lifted up his weapon, preparing to charge out to the aid of the beleaguered soldiers around him. As the saying goes, no eggs survive when the nest is destroyed. The outpost warriors were suffering horrendous casualties. Even if they managed to survive in the end, what good would a ruined outpost be to them?

“Don’t be so impatient, kid.” Slyfox slapped a meaty hand on Cloudhawk’s shoulders, holding him back. The stone-faced Mad Dog spoke out in agreement: “Luck isn’t the only reason why Blackflag Outpost has been around for so long. The outpost has plenty of expert fighters, and the dozens of elite guards haven’t made their move yet either. Why the hell are you rushing to your death?”

Cloudhawk didn’t really understand what these two mercenary captains were thinking. The sweepers were smashing through their allies like rotting wood, and the outpost had suffered hundreds of casualties in just a few short minutes. Were they seriously supposed to hold back at a time like this?

One of the sweeper thugs lopped off the head of a guard with his war-axe. Just as he turned to seek out a new target, an incredibly muscular figure came charging straight towards him at incredible speeds. The muscular figure didn’t move to disguise his intent and wasted no time at all. He charged over, cocked his arm, clenched his fist, then delivered a punch!

The sweeper thug was a veteran of over a hundred battles, and he immediately lifted up his metal shield to block. The shield was made out of pure metal; not even an ordinary bullet would necessarily be able to pierce through it. There was no way it would be pierced through by a punch, right?

CLANG! It was like a giant warhammer had slammed into his shield, with a large indent appearing at the point of impact! The sweeper thug was sent stumbling backwards as though he had been struck by a thunderbolt. One step, two steps, three steps… he staggered backwards by three steps before regaining his footing. The sweeper thug let out a furious roar, his iron boots digging into the ground as he used them to ‘nail’ himself into the ground. He then struck out with the great war-axe in his right hand, sending it sweeping forwards in a heavy counter-attack.

The muscular man in front of the sweeper thug delivered another punch! Sparks danced across the blade of the war-axe as it began to crack apart, then flew out of the sweeper thug’s hand! Even the thug’s fingers had been broken from this collision. Finally, the sweeper revealed a look of utter terror.

A third punch came straight for him! It was as fast as a ghost and had the power of a thunderbolt! The sweeper thug was actually knocked into the air, his metal chest-plate caved in and his ribs completely snapped. Even his heart had been heavily damaged by the power of this blow. This was no mere ‘punch’, it was like being slammed into by a freight train!

“Oho!” The mysterious man turned to glance at the newcomer with some degree of interest. This tall, muscular man was none other than one of the captains of Blackflag Outpost’s elite guards… Grizzly!

Grizzly wore a pair of heavy steel boxing gloves over his hands. In terms of raw power, he was probably every bit the equal of Mad Dog. After finishing off the sweeper thug with three quick blows, he turned and chose a tall, hulking maneater as his next target.

The maneater could sense Grizzly’s animosity and the danger he posed. The maneater pulled his great warhammer from a heap of mangled flesh, then swept it towards Grizzly with such power that it generated a stinging wind, sending chunks of blood and gore splattering over Grizzly’s body.

This was a furious attack with an insane amount of power behind it, but Grizzly did not retreat. He stepped forward, welcoming the rain of blood. As he sidestepped the heavy blow, he delivered a sudden punch to the maneater’s kneecap, shattering it into tiny bits. Next, he used one leg to step onto the warhammer, pressing it even further into the ground and preventing the maneater from lifting it back up, then used his other leg to deliver a powerful kick to the maneater’s thick, muscled arm. CRACK! The maneater’s right arm was instantly broken by the power of this kick.

Grizzly flexed his legs, leaping high into the air as he delivered a punch to the maneater’s jaw. Not even the maneater’s helmet was able to stop Grizzly’s furious, ferocious power. Even the maneater’s lower teeth were shattered as its enormous form fell backwards, stunned. The maneater let out an enraged, agonized howl as it sought to rise once more, but a foot came crashing down upon its chest and sent it right back down again.

Arm cocked. Fist clenched. Punch! Grizzly’s right hand completely smashed the maneater’s ugly face apart. This hammer-like blow was so heavy that the maneater’s face was reduced to a pile of completely unrecognizable mush.

Finally, one of the terrifying monstrosities had been destroyed. As expected, the elite captains possessed incredible power! His display of explosive strength and supernatural agility instantly boosted the flagging morale of the outpost defenders.

Grizzly was panting slightly. This sort of blitzkrieg offense was overwhelmingly powerful yet hard to sustain, and even an expert like him found it quite taxing.

A soft chuckle rang out from beneath the mysterious figure’s hood, as though he didn’t care at all about the death of his subordinates. He gently waved his hands in a commanding gesture, causing a number of archers to point their bows towards Grizzly. A wave of steel-tipped arrows shot out with incredible force, but right at this moment a black blur suddenly flashed past, using his blade to strike down all of the arrows with incomprehensible speed. This was the other captain of the elite squad, Wulf!

The two elite captains stood back-to-back. Grizzly lifted his blood-stained boxing gloves up high, while Wulf lifted up his snow-bright saber.

“Careful.”

“You too!”

There was no need for men like them to waste words. The two had battled side by side for countless years and had long ago reached a tacit understanding. Neither felt any hesitation at all in letting each other provide cover from behind. As dozens of sweeper thugs and a number of maneaters surrounded them, the other elite guards quickly came to reinforce them as well, causing both sides to be bogged into a miserable fight.

Grizzly was battling furiously for his life. He let out a furious roar, “Tartarus, are you guys gonna just sit and watch? Are you seriously gonna wait until all of us are dead?”

The sinister-faced fat man’s beady little eyes rolled with crafty amusement. To be honest, he was indeed considering just this. If the elite squad was wiped out, Tartarus’ status in the outpost would instantly skyrocket. This was a good thing, not a bad thing! Both the sweepers and the elite guards were formidable foes. This battle wouldn’t come to an end that quickly!

“Hey. Hey! HEY! Why the hell aren’t you helping? This is crazy!” Cloudhawk was filled with utter contempt towards the fat man. “The outpost is at the verge of being wiped out, and the only thing in your mind is how to profit from it?”

Slyfox gave Cloudhawk a hard look. “Stop fuckin’ jabberin’ and just stand clear!”

“If you guys won’t go, I will!” A resolute look was on Cloudhawk’s face. “We’ll all die anyways. I’d rather die fighting!”

“You talk too much, you punk-ass kid!” But when Slyfox remembered how Tartarus did seem to owe Grizzly a favor, he turned to cast a glance at the still-unmoving leader of the sweeper battalion. He felt a tinge of regret in his heart. The real reason why he hadn’t been willing to get involved was primarily because he still didn’t know enough about this foe.

Although Slyfox didn’t have Cloudhawk’s animal-like instincts, he did have analytical skills. In truth, judging from the actual numbers of sweepers involved, this wasn’t necessarily a battle which Blackflag Outpost could not win. The greatest unknown variable was that cloaked figure in the back.

Slyfox wanted to wait for the cloaked figure to act first so that he would be able to analyze the man’s abilities, but the dirty, mysterious man still didn’t seem the slightest bit inclined to join the fight. It was true that Slyfox couldn’t just keep standing by on the sidelines, and so he gestured with his hand. “Let’s join the fight!”

Were they finally going to enter the fray? Cloudhawk immediately hoisted his shotgun, preparing to join the fight.

“Stay back for now, rookies.” Mad Dog’s entire body was rippling with built-up energy, and the ugly scars on his face were beginning to twist and turn. The veins on his muscles began to writhe like worms as he flexed his muscles, and he looked as tense as a fully drawn bowstring. “I’ll go first!”

His feet left a small crater in the earth as he shot out like a cannon ball. A howling wind blew past the other mercenaries as Mad Dog all but disappeared from in front of them.

Mad Dog was incredibly fast! He wasn’t an agility metahuman, but when he unleashed all of his formidable physical might and focused it on speed, he was every bit as fast as any agility metahuman.

Two of the sweeper thugs sought to impede the rapidly-approaching Mad Dog, but he didn’t even slow down. In fact, he bellowed as he actually accelerated towards them! His furious posture and his snarling face were such that anyone who saw him would feel certain that even if a mountain was standing in his path, he would still be able to ram it aside. The sweeper thugs had never encountered such a crazy human, but they were only startled for a brief instant before they lifted their war-axes high, then sent them chopping down towards Mad Dog.

CRACK! CRACK!

Slyfox didn’t even aim his pistols at all; he seemed to have simply swung his arms forward carelessly. Two plumes of smoke burst out of the barrel of his pistols, and those two sweeper thugs immediately fell backwards.

While running past those two sweepers, Mad Dog grabbed the war-axes from their now-unsteady hands as he leapt into the air. His feet landed on their heads, crushing their necks as he used them to propel himself over six meters into the air. Those two great war-axes flashed with a dazzling cold light in his hands as he soared straight towards a maneater and chopped down at him.

This was an extremely risky aerial vault, because not even the most powerful of men could dodge well in midair. The sweepers here were all veterans of many battles; there was naturally no way they would ignore such a perfect opportunity! Two of the sweepers hurriedly drew their bows, preparing to shoot the midair Mad Dog with their steel-tipped bows.

But right at this moment, two more pistol cracks could be heard!

Two bullets passed through the grouped sweepers and humans with inhuman accuracy, then instantly exploded into the heads of those two archers. They didn’t even have a chance to react or fully draw their bows before they fell to the ground, dead.

From start to finish, Mad Dog had ignored everyone and everything save his target. He roared more furiously than any wild animal, and his roar was far more terrifying. CLANK! His two thick war-axes descended as he himself did, slamming straight into the maneater’s head. The war-axes, the maneater helmet, the maneater’s head… all three instantly exploded into tiny pieces!

The incredibly massive form of the maneater was actually knocked into the air by the force of this flow. It ‘somersaulted’ through the air, spraying blood and brain matter everywhere before it finally slammed into the ground with the force of a mountain.

Mad Dog had a rictus of a crazed grin on his face. The dual-strike he had used to slay the maneater had been so heavy that the skin between his thumb and his forefinger had split apart, but he felt no sense of pain at all. He pulled his snow-white machetes from their sheaths by his waist, then cut through the shields, war-axes, armors, and helmets of multiple nearby thugs as though he was chopping through rotten wood, reducing their flesh and their bones to piles of sliced meat.

Such incredible power! Both the two captains of the elite guards as well as these two captains of the Tartarus mercenaries were simply stunning. So long as such powerful humans were on their side, the outpost might just stand a chance at survival!

But Cloudhawk could sense a bone-chilling aura sweep across the region. Although he wasn’t the target of this murderous intent, it was so chilling and so violent that he felt as though he had previously been standing beneath the blazing sun but had now been thrust into an icy pit. He felt as though every single cell in his body had been frozen… and this murderous intent was coming from the cloaked figure, the one who had yet to make any moves at all.

Cloudhawk called out in warning, “Careful, Slyfox! That guy is about to attack!”

Slyfox was slightly startled, “Oh, is he now?”

The mysterious figure produced a pair of long, straight knives from his sleeves, then whispered a few words that sounded like the hissing of a viper. His dark eyes were as black as the endless depths of the sea, but waves of a murderous intent could be seen within them.

He didn’t ‘run’ forward, he ‘shot’ out like a bullet from a gun, an arrow from a bow, a javelin from its thrower. The way he moved seemed to violate the laws of physics! A moment ago, he had been completely still. Now, he was somehow in full motion! There had been no process of acceleration, but he was now moving at a terrifying, incomprehensible speed. His graceful movements seemed to suggest that he was able to ignore the effects of gravity itself, and the ragged cape fluttering in the wind behind him seemed almost like a demon stretching out its black, infernal wings.

He was attacking! Finally, he was attacking!




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