110 The Beast Tide
Before Zoey knew it, the boy had disappeared into the Gap among the throng of people that had never stopped moving. Zoey did her best to collect herself before she continued on. This chance meeting had shaken her up a little, and she needed to focus on her current task. For the moment, she pushed the her whirling thoughts of the boy to the back of her mind and continued on into the Gap.
The main part of the Gap was half a kilometer long, and there were various defence points set up on the side closer to the town, mostly because it was easier to defend a single location rather than further in where there were multiple branches off of the main canyon.
But aside from some of the mercenary groups, most teams were heading deeper into the Gap. As for the reason they would go further in where it would be more dangerous instead of staying at one of the main defence points, was of course because of greed.
Going deeper would give these teams a chance at more essence stones and more beast materiels. The further in you went, the more dangerous it became and the more lucrative it was, if you could manage to kill the beasts and recover the materials and essence stones that is.
Most of the teams stopped at the first major fork where two smaller gorges split away on either side from the main canyon that continued on. This location was about at the midpoint of the Gap, and the walls of the canyon were over a hundred meters tall here. There was a good defensive point here where most teams would settle in to face the wave while the young and greedy went deeper into the main canyon and various gorges and tunnels that split off from it.
This was the place that Zoey stopped. There were around a hundred total active defenders that had stopped here. Some had stayed back at various other defence points along the canyon's length and others had gone deeper in.
Thanks to the day of rain that the region had received, there were streams of water flowing through the canyon, and some areas further in were under nearly a meter of water thanks to that. The defence point where Zoey had stopped was thankfully on some raised ground, so no swimming was needed.
Zoey took her que from the others around her and settled in to wait. She had overheard that the wave would start soon. Once the teams that had gone deeper into the canyon retreated back to the defence point, or were killed by the beasts, that was when they would get some action.
It was barely an hour of waiting before things started to liven up. From deeper inside the Gap, howls gould be heard echoing through the stony canyon to reach them. The howls had a blood-chilling timbre to them, as if the creatures that made them were driven mad. The teams around Zoey prepared themselves for the fight, and so did she.
The Mk1 Prototype Armament in its default blade configuration was her weapon of choice tonight, she had no plans to cause chaos by using the DAAC or the FAMR inside the canyon. She was the only one at this defence point without a team, so she had drawn some curious looks thanks to that. Most of the solo defenders had stayed back at one of the main defence points, as it was rather dangerous to be this deep in the Gap without someone to watch your back.
But as the howling from the beast wave got closer, the others forgot about Zoey and focused on the gloom of the canyon ahead in preparation for the incoming beasts. The action soon started when the first of the advance teams came running out of one of the side gorges followed by the howling beasts close on their heels.
The torches and other lights that the mercenaries had brought with them were rather bad at lighting the darkness filling the canyon, but thanks to her Dark Star Vision, Zoey was able to get her first good look at the beasts.
She already knew a little from some of the conversations she had overheard, but it was still jarring to see for the first time. The wasteland beasts were mutants. No single creature had developed normally out there, and from the twisted, mutated beasts that Zoey now saw, this was made exceedingly clear.
Most of the beasts were a strange mutated combination of various animals somehow twisted into one. A wolf head on the body of a goat, a bear with two heads, one head from the bear and the other a monkey, gorilla with three arms and the head of a snake... Not a single creature was the same, and they all came out of the dark with eyes mad for blood, snarling, howling, and frothing at the mouth, almost as if a disease had hold of them.
There was a large number of them as well. With her powerful vision, Zoey could see past the leading group of beasts deeper into the canyon. There she could see nothing but the swarming wave of mutated beasts, snarling and howling, stretching on until they disappeared behind a bend in the canyon.
It was horrifying to see for the first time, yet the various teams here to defend faced the beasts with practiced ferocity. As more teams retreated back to the defence point, the battle began.
A fireball smashed into the first wave of beasts that had appeared as a team stepped forward to engage. Howls of pain and rage rang out from the beasts, echoing through the canyon. The smell of burnt flesh and blood was in the air as the weapons of the defenders began their work.
Zoey's position was not yet under attack, so she had some time to observe the fight for a moment. The defenders seemed to be about Rank 3 on average, with team leaders being around Rank 4 or 5. The beasts on the other hand looked to be around Rank 2 to 3, with the occasional Rank 4 among the howling horde.
Slashing claws and ripping teeth were met with cold, sharp steel, and it was only moments before the canyon floor ran red with blood.