Mark quickly exited behind his dad to the main street, careful to avoid the pond to the north that contained the Hipporaffe and checking the smaller one on their property for any more signs of Fuuzers. After a quick all clear hand signal, they rounded the corner and headed south. They had two short blocks along the main street the ran along the eastern side of their property before they reached the turn into the neighborhood area that the Johnson’s were in. His face was grim as they made their way down the street, as the only movement they could see were monsters. Many houses along the road had broken windows with doors slightly ajar implying bad news for their occupants. It wasn’t all hopeless, however, as a couple houses had boards in the windows and showed other signs of people fortifying themselves. Mark pointed out a few to his dad, but a sad headshake was the only response he got. “Once we have a better handle on what was going on, we’ll come back and help those survivors. For now, we have to focus.” he replied.
Liz noticed an item of particular interest as they made the final turnoff down the street. While the Fuuzers and Nerflings seemed to get along fine, she noticed pockets of other monsters fighting amongst themselves. This gave Mark some hope that over time the eco system of monsters would stabilize and that these things wouldn’t just overrun everything with their random spawns.
As they turned down the side street towards the Johnson’s house, Jason held his hand up to stop them. “Kids, one of those sky crystals looked like it came down right around the lake here. Be extra careful, we have no idea what that could have done to the area.”
Mark and Liz nodded, and lifted their weapons to a ready position. They had three blocks to go, and Mark kept particular watch on the streets that lead down towards the lake. As they approached the last turn to Elly’s street, Liz made a quick grunt to get his attention. Her breathing increased as adrenaline started coursing through her system and Mark soon matched her state. That looked very much like a pack of wolves.
Their dad, seeing the cause of his kids distress, immediately gestured over to a nearby tree. They had about 40 feet of distance between the three wolves who were busy exploring a the yard of a house across the street. Mark and his sister quietly moved up the branches of the tree as two wolves wandered out into the intersection and perked their ears up as the noticed the small group of humans. He heard a low growl and suddenly the other wolf that was further back in the yard turned its heads towards them as well. Mark secured as good a perch as he could while his dad positioned himself at the base of the tree, spear at the ready.
“I’ll keep them off you kids, hopefully they can’t climb trees. Take your shots carefully, and try to focus fire. Here they come.” Jason said in as calm as a voice he could manage. Mark heard the sounds of bow being pulled back and did his best to time his shot with his sister’s. Two arrows sailed out and hit the two charging wolves closest to them.
Mark cursed a bit as he reloaded. He should have been able to predict the target his sister was going for and they would have had a chance of knocking one out for the count. The wolves yelped in pain but quickly recovered and resumed bounding towards them. The bluish white tips on their fur gave them a spikey and intimidating look, and the fact that they were probably long as their dad was tall didn’t make them any less scary. Mark was pretty sure that was bigger than normal wolves should be, but right now it only mean they were slightly easier to hit with an arrow. One of the lead wolves pulled ahead, less injured than it’s counterpart, but that only made it so two more arrows found him as their target. The beast collapsed under the barrage, but two other wolves were starting to get close.
Mark was really surprised at how well he was doing these shots. While he always worked hard and practiced with the crossbow, he never had much success with moving targets. Now he seemed to be picking off monsters in motion without that much effort. He couldn’t spare extra thoughts on it now, however, and did his best to reload without falling out of the tree.
To Mark’s horror, two new wolves bounded of the house across the street and sprinted towards their pack mates. Getting a clear look at them, he noticed the wolves were running on appendages that resemble hands more than paws, and a sinking feeling told him those things would have no trouble climbing a tree. At the base of their perch, their dad made a quick swipe and knocked one of the closer wolves aside but the last one had a sudden burst of speed and caught Jason off guard. It was able to slip in close and land a bite to his thigh. The thick padding of the practice armor he was wearing prevented the worst of it, but Mark could see a dark bloody stain forming around the wolf’s mouth.
“Dad!” Mark shouted in alarm as he finally finished reloading. Jason leaned back to give as clear a shot as possible as Mark launch a quick shot into the wolf. The bolt lodged itself in the skull of the beast leaving the remaining injured wolf and two sprinting packmates to deal with. Liz got a good shot on the injured one. While it wobbled on its feet, it was still moving, and therefore a threat. It’s sprinting packmates had also arrived to the tree by now. Jason was able to get a solid attack on one, opening a gash on it side and preventing it from climbing up, but the other sprinted up the tree as naturally as it were a horizontal surface and quickly closed in to snap at Liz’s face.
Liz immediately dropped her bow and drew her knife, getting it between her and the maw of the angry wolf just in time, but the quick movement came at the sacrifice of her balance. She braced one arm against the throat of the wolf as she attempted to knock it away, but the motion caused her to fall from the tree, taking the wolf with her. She fell awkwardly onto her back, and was stunned as all the breath was knocked out of her. The wolf that came down with her fared much better, and quickly came it it’s feet. Liz, tried to move, but she had no strength in her limbs. The three remaining wolves tensed to pounce but just then Jason jumped into the fray, swinging his spear in wide arcs and preventing them from finishing Liz off.
The swinging kept the wolves at bay, but really only served as a distraction. The wolves quickly regrouped, and reacted to the new threat. The wounded one, with an arrow sticking out from it’s back, fell unmoving as another bolt penetrated it. Mark had managed to recover from his surprise and finished the beast off. Meanwhile, the last two wolves coordinated an attack against his dad. His first swing caused one wolf to jump back, but it created an opening that the other quickly dived into.
Jason couldn’t help but scream as the wolf managed to get past his armor and tear into his calf, causing him to stumble to his knees and forcing him to use his spear to maintain balance. Almost as if it was waiting for the opening, the other wolf immediately jumped forward towards the exposed throat of Jason. Jason tensed grimly. He knew he didn’t have enough time to react, but he would give his kids every advantage he could so they had a shot at winning the rest of the fight. In a last ditch effort, he grabbed the wolf on his calf, hoping that his body would tangle it up giving his kids some more time to deal with it. Bracing for the end, Jason gritted his teeth, but the final blow never came.
Liz had recovered, and seeing her Dad about to get killed, had a burst of adrenaline. Wiping the last effects of her fall from her body and she lunged towards the attacking wolf. Mr. Fluffers, her custom bowie knife, did not let her down, and its long reach penetrated the hide of the wolf effortlessly, finding the heart of the beast and ending its life.
At almost the same time, a dark shape fell from the tree. Mark was shouting, katana in hand, as he drove the full force he could deliver into the back of the wolf. The momentum plus the well time swing cleanly cut through the back of the wolf, severing its spine and nearly bisecting it. Mark fell to the side and rolled to his feet, breathing heavily as the last wolf crumpled to the side.
The sound of breathing was the only thing that could be heard for the next few moments, as the group glanced around to see if anything else had been drawn to the conflict. Seeing nothing else coming for them, Mark glanced towards the dead wolves. He could now see that the ends of the fur of the creatures were melting in the warm late spring sun, and seemed to be made of ice. “Ice Wolves?” Mark commented offhand, trying to get the thing named before his sister said anything. He had to get a few cooler sounding names in to make up for the ridiculous stuff she had already done.
Liz and his dad shrugged in acceptance. That worked as well as anything else. Without another word, Liz helped patch her Dad up as best they could and hobbled over quickly to the Johnson’s. The door had opened and Matt, Elly’s dad, rushed out with a crowbar looking thing in hand and moved to help carry Jason inside. Mark was briefly annoyed that Matt hadn’t come to help sooner, but then realized he probably came out as soon as he heard Mark scream. While it felt like forever, the entire fight probably took less than two minutes from start to finish.
As they made their way back towards the house they saw two weird batlike creatures with duck bills in the front yard. They were clearly dead, and had numerous puncture wounds on them. “I see the hooligan bars from the kits I gave you came in handy” Jason noted as he saw the bodies.
“You know Jason, I am sorry I ever gave you a hard time when you gave us those deluxe zombie survival kits for Christmas. Clearly, they were the best gift ever.” Matt said as they all collapsed inside the house.