A vaguely canine shape sat calmly on the shoreline, passing a large tawny paw over his muzzle and cheeks. With a neat lick he cleaned his toes of crimson stains, then combed through the fur on his face again. Licking the edge of his paw, he folded each of his ears down carefully to wash behind them. He continued to groom, catlike, until his fur was clean.
He had finished clearing the island of the remainder of Julius's beasts. Though no longer under his control, the madman had directed them down paths of aggresion and suspicion for so long, they could now follow no other way. But divided, with few left of their original number, they made easy targets for the hunter sitting on the sand. He led a small force of seven - five Eeri, tough and durable beasts with the ability to fire electricity at long range - and the pair of Komodo tigers, who had the body of a tiger and the head and long, curving tail of the komodo dragon. He got along well with the Komodo-tigers, finding them very easy to communicate with. The Eeri were easy to lead but harder to communicate directly with - they were herd creatures and once one was engaged in attacking or defending, the others naturally fell in beside that one.
Wolf felt that with the last of the stray enemies creatures defeated his sense of purpose was completed here, but there was something more awaiting him. He knew that over that horizon there were more islands... and on them, more creatures.
He knew what he had to do.
He wuffed to the Komodo-tigers. Both trotted over to him, the male butting his hea against Wolf's shoulder. The female grunted in the strange lizard-voice the pair used to communicate, a very low sound to Wolf's ears. He licked them both between their ears, his posture communicating to them he was leaving them and wishing them both well. The pair nuzzled at him with affection, looking up to him as the leader of their little pack. They they trotted back up the beach together. Wolf watched them go and felt a sharp stab inside, as if an enemy had clawed him.
He huffed a sigh and turned his gaze out to the horizon. The sun had started to venture close to the line where the sky met the ocean and a wash of gold was overtaking the sky. The tide was coming in, starting to wash close to the big animal's forepaws. He gave a single flick of his bushy tail, glanced back once at the island, and plunged into the water.
He swam easily through the waves, his powerful feline limbs churning steadily. His chin remained tilted up and his ears slightly flattened, to keep spray from reaching his face, as he headed towards the next island out of a chain over a thousand miles in length. Night fell and still the figure of the hybrid paddled. It was well past midnight before he reached the next island.
Isla Inasnum. Wolf had hated this island form the moment he first jumped from the tainted ground and smelt the air. It didn't smell like the other islands did - fresh, salty, natural. This island smelt of the death and delusions Julius had brought there, punctuated by the strong metallic scent from the portions of the islands he'd enclosed in dull silver docks.
This was an easier island to clear of rogue creatures, though he disliked it. Many of them were weakend by the virus and not up to their usual standards of battle. Which was a good thing, since a few of Rex's errant Eeri were still on the island. It wasn't that Wolf found them difficult to dispatch, (though they weren't the easiest he'd had to deal with) because he was faster than them, and remorseless at sizing a weak area to hit. It was that Wolf, after working with Eeri through many a long battle, found them a hardy, intelligent and respectable breed and he was reluctant to turn against a former ally. But there could be no saving the crazed creatures once so badly infected with the virus. Wolf was simply putting an end to the poor beasts' suffering.
He didn't even pause to hunt or rest on Isla Inasnum, he was so eager to be gone. It was best the place be left as a metal graveyard, a reminder of all the lives Julius ruined.
The next island was a longer swim. He reached it by midmorning. Isla Porta's high metal gate still stood, something that infuriated Wolf. He swam along the island's central channel for a closer look. It was constructed far too heavily for any creature his size to damage. He did defiantly score his claws across the open doors though, leaving four paralell lines gouged into the metal.
He was glad none of the giant enemy creatures remained on this island. As it was the cheetah-lobsters prooved difficult enough for him. Their sleek, rangy bodies were faster than he was over short distances, and the instant they realized he was nearby they bolted like frightened deer. Wolf, however, had the staminia to track them. In the end there was nowhere they could run on the island to escape his keen nose. Wolf fought them with huge, powerful blows, crippling them or knocking them out before they could turn their lobster claws on him.
He hunted after the job was done. He was partial to the taste of zebra meat. He could eat enemy Sigma creatures, but he preferred actual animals. Sigma creatures were not as filling, and they were messy to secure as a meal - he had to start feeding while they were still alive. Once they died, they faded like dying fireflies.
By the following day he had reached Isla Fervesca. He was sorry to leave the tropical islands behind for the harsh sun of the desert, yet his lion DNA ensured he didn't suffer overly from the heat. He could see the prints in the red sand of abnormally large camels. Their scent gave them away - camel eels. Sigma enemies.
They were difficult to get close to because of their ranged eletrcial attack - Wolf knew from experience with the Eeri what sort of damage that charge could do. He was smart in hunting them, stelathy, stalking up to them and striking before they knew he was there. Their eel heads were mounted on long, vulnerable camel necks - an excellent target to attack while avioding being shot.
The constant swimming and attacking were taking their toll on him. He stood on the shoreline, wondering if he should go hunting for a regular camel. But there was something... something pushing him onward, a very strange sensation. He recalled the next island along with less than fond memories - it was where the scorpion-bull had attacked him. The fur along his spine stood on end just thinking of that. Yet... yet there was something on that island he had overlooked. He was sure of it.
He started the next swim at roughly midday, but night had fallen before he heard the wash of waves upon sand that signalled he was close. He was following his sixth sense in the dark, the inbuilt sense of direction that told him where to go.
He swam on strongly towards the island. Desert nights were cold and the temperature of the ocean had dropped low enough to chill him, even under his coarse wolf-fur.
He was weary when his paws finally felt sand shift under them. He walked through the shallows, up to the beach. It smelt familair, he decided as he got closer. His master and his mate had made the base there. He splashed the last few steps and went trotting up the sand.
The rocky hills bordered on either side ahead. Yes, he could remember footprints here in the sand, a scent he had led his master along. His tail wagged briefly at the memory, though he was heavy inside.
He missed them.
He paused where he was to shake off his coat, sending spray flying.
The only signal he got was the single crunch of a paw on the sand in front of him. He neither saw or scented his attacker comming. A hurtled weight threw him to the ground, claws digging into his shoulder.
He'd been ambushed.