Lights flickered throughout the dampened, rotted corridors as rain slowly dripped in between cracks above. The rain seeped in, momentarily pausing in the ceiling, dangling slowly in small collections, before giving into gravity’s whim and falling to the ground. Puddles collected in low depressions in the tiles as cracks in the floor carried the rain deeper into the complex. A crimson substance slowly blended with the gathering rainwater, which caused the system of puddles and streams to flow red. Tracing the path the water took would lead back upstream, towards the end of the passageway, and farther up the stairs.
Around the turn, a man dressed in a black uniform sat slumped against the wall adjacent to the stairs. His head hung low overtop his lap, the soldier’s arm cradling his side. His jet-black hair was matted with a pungent, viscous substance, his hand covered in a familiar fluid. Beside him were three others, all of them at the foot of the cold, cement staircase. All dead, lifeless. The man eyed his injury, a deep cut along his right hip, then back to his fallen comrades. He could recall fond memories of his time spent in there company. Watching sports, betting on their favourite teams, playing poker all of these and more adorned sleepless nights in the subterranean bunker.
A pained groan escaped his lips, much to his dismay. Blood dripped out from his mouth, falling against his proud uniform and staining over the nametag. Iosif. Another jolt of pain spread through his body, igniting the agent’s senses once more.
His body strained to move, but he found himself stuck still. He looked to his left, the side opposite the staircase. There it was, the opening of the subterranean outpost. Just beyond his reach was freedom, the cave entrance covered with contrived moss and ivy. Bright, white floodlights pierced through the dark night, splitting its rays as the light pushed its way through the cluttered opening. But, he would never reach it. Not with that monster in the way.
With a mighty sweep, the creature threw his last friend alive into the bunker’s wall. The boy, whom Iosif knew as Nergüi, screamed violently as he collapsed to the ground. His right arm bent at an odd angle, his arm snapped at the elbow as his forearm jutted outwards. Iosif could only watch as the creature approached Nergüi once more, circling him as if he was a trapped animal.
“Who sent you here?” The beast quizzed, a thick Russian accent behind it. His dark blue mane sparked violently as electricity built up. “TELL ME!”
Nergüi tried desperately to claw his way away. But, with only one arm and already on the ground, the fearsome agent only had to kick him over with his front paw. Iosif watched as his newest recruit shook and quivered, his whole body violently shuddering as the Luxray stood overtop his prey. Iosif knew he had to move, to escape, but he knew the creature would come for him next. It was useless running. Unless…’The cars, you tool! You can get to the cars.’ Iosif, dazed from his bleeding, thought.
“Please…please!” Nergüi squealed out as the creature stood overtop of him. “I don’t know! I’m new here! I-I don’t know anything! Please!”
The snarling creature barred his teeth, the small rays of light gleaming off his white fangs. “Nikuda ne goditsya ublyudok!” With a mighty sweep, the Luxray threw his claws into Nergüi’s shoulder, dug in, and pried him up to meet his eyes. “I’m going to kill you slow, so you can watch as every memory of your pathetic life flashes before you. And when it’s all over, you’ll feel everything, every moment of joy and love, only to have it yanked from your very soul. And you will be left a shell of a man. Only then will I let you die.” It growled.
Iosif knew this was his only chance to escape. Iosif paused momentarily, thinking about poor Nergüi being ripped to shreds. But, there was nothing he could do. The fiend took all of their guns and burnt the barrels with Thunderbolt. As the monstrosity buried its claws into Nergüi’s stomach, the injured Éxtinctionist carefully pulled himself up the wall. His leg buckled with the sudden weight change, but he stayed up. With great restraint, Iosif swallowed his screams and slowly inched forward. His hand covered the wound as a feeble attempt to stem the blood flow. Beneath it, muscles rolled and twitched across his palm. The cut was deep and painful, not to mention lethal if he didn’t get help. He approached the lip of the cave. He was now staring through the ivy. Good, no other agents were there. He turned his attention to the Pokémon. He was still busy with Nergüi; making sure his death was slow and agonizing. He was pulling his guts from his stomach, cursing in Russian as he did so. Iosif pulled himself through the ivy and into the thunderstorm.
Rainwater rushed throughout the forest floor, creating a miniature flood that made the prey trip and stumble about. Still, he persisted towards the vehicles parked out back. Thunder boomed across the sky as lightning arched wildly between clouds. The downpour drenched Iosif in icy water, soaking through his clothes in seconds. The cars were in sight, just beyond a small barbwire fence. Iosif quickly found the gate and threw it open. His body fell limp against the first truck he found. He wiped away the window and peered inside, no keys. The soaked agent moved around the truck and to the next. Locked. He reached to the next one. Iosif’s heart nearly stopped.
A set of keys were already in the ignition of the unlocked truck. Oh, what luck! He’d finally get out of here! Without hesitation, the spirited man threw the truck door open and clambered into the warm truck cab. He turned the key, absolutely giddy with delight as the truck turned on without fail. One hand on the gearshift, the other on the wheel, he threw the box truck into drive and steered it out of the depot and onto the small transport road.
“I did it.” Iosif whispered. “I did it!” That was when he saw the radio sitting on the passenger seat. He reached for it and, pressing down the talk button, began radioing for help. “T-This is Iosif…” He found himself lost for words as the situation he’d escaped began to pile on him. “They’re all dead. He killed them all.” The grim agent choked before continuing. “Send help to checkpoint Sierra… Siera-Bravo-Four.”
There was some clatter in the radio, before, “Agent Orlov, we can’t reach Sierra-Bravo-Four until the storm lets up. It’s too dangerous, think you can get to checkpoint Lima?”
“Y-yes. I can get there.” Iosif leaned back in his seat and sighed. Just a little bit longer. He grabbed a CD from the console and slotted it into the radio, trying to calm his nerves.
The truck slipped and skidded along the muddy, wet path. Thunder struck across the sky. CRACK! BOOM! POP! A mile away now, through twisting road and forestry, across streams and rivers, his fallen comrades lay lifeless. He could still hear Nergüi’s screams haunting him, surrounding him. “Nergüi…I’m so sorry.” Iosif choked. “I couldn’t do a thing about it.” He reassured himself, a desperate attempt to keep his mind away from dangerous thoughts. “There was nothing I could do, I tri-“
Iosif looked into the mirror just in time to see a blinding yellow flash arc by the vehicle. “WHAT THE HELL?” He instinctively yelled, veering away from the violent strike. That bolt was followed by another, and soon more arced by, as if a small thunderstorm was chasing him. Another strike took out his mirror, just barely missing the large truck. Iosif ducked low and pressed harder on the gas, but the twisting turns and slick mud ensured him to be a slow target.
Iosif looked up and guessed his surroundings. Ahead of him was a familiar wooden and steel bridge, beyond that being the small clearing that was the old security checkpoint. He was almost home. Gritting his teeth and tensing his muscles, the desperate agent pressed down hard on the gas pedal, sending the truck lurching forward. He was on the bridge now; he just had to cross the small stream.
Iosif attempted to regain control as the steering wheel jerked to his right, but instead he only sprained his wrist. The car cut to the side and broke through the flimsy wooden barrier, sending Iosif over.
The truck tilted on its side, landing in the stream bed. Iosif fought to remain conscious as water slowly seeped through a busted windshield. He was dazed, confused. It was like he was viewing the world through a glass, distorted and muffled. There was the small realization of blood coming from his nose. Was it broken, or did he have a concussion? He felt chilled and damp, the water at least washing away some of the blood. Slowly, his surroundings began appearing more vivid. The windshield broke, and, like a rush of blood to the head, he was back in the present.
Iosif pulled himself from his seat, attempting to push against the flood. The water was too strong. He pulled himself up and reached for the passenger side door, but it was too hard to lift himself to the window. Not when he was already bleeding out. “No…” Iosif shuddered as the now icy water quickly began plunging his body temperature. “So close.” He muttered helplessly. He lay down there, ready to give into his watery grave. “I tried…”
There was a screeching across the truck’s side, like someone was above him. Then, the shattering of the passenger door’s window, making Iosif shield his face from the falling glass. He looked up expecting a PXT agent, but instead was treated to the Luxray from before. It lowered itself inside and wordlessly clenched down of Iosif’s shirt. Then, it started scrambling up the sides of the seat. The drained agent allowed himself to be yanked up, rolling his shoulders forward when he was dragged through the window.
The warm, murky mud felt relieving to Iosif as he immediately tried crawling back to the checkpoint. But, the creature wasn’t done with him. “Not so fast,” It spoke in its Russian accent. He placed his paw on Iosif’s back, stopping him from moving. It then rolled him over so they stared eye-to-eye. “You have caused me a great deal of trouble, Iosif. But, I’m willing to forgive it all.” They stared each other down, Iosif trying to think of a way to get away and the creature plotting how to block his escape. “Tell me what I want and you will live.”
“…Okay.” He coughed, knowing this was his last chance to survive. “Just…no more.”
The monster grinned wide, barring his teeth. “Good. Now, who sent you here?” He spoke calmly, as if he was casually asking for desert.
“…I don’t know.”
“Wrong answer.” The beast launched forward, pinning Iosif to the ground. He raised his paw and—
“WAIT!” This caught the beast’s attention. His claws were mere centimeters from his face. Iosif sucked in heavy breaths, the sudden attack nearly making him flat line. “All of my orders come from an intelligence post. Th-they’ll know!”
“Where is it?” The beast snapped.
“F-Four clicks north of here. They’re disguised as an ecologist research base, built into the Atal Mountains! Y-you can’t miss it.” Iosif winced, hoping it was enough for the Luxray. He waited there for what felt like an eternity, waiting for his demise. But, it never came.
“That’s a good boy.” The wild beast smiled, stepping off of Iosif and beginning to retreat into the dark.
“What are you?” Iosif managed to blurt out.
The creature stopped, turned around slowly. With a stern scowl, he said, “If you were my friend, I would tell you my name is Vadim. But you are not, so you will know me only as The Wolf. And if you say my name, anywhere; be it while creating my profile, or screaming from the nightmares that will now haunt you, I will kill you. Now go.” With that, the creature disappeared through the thick trees under the cover of the storm.
Thunderous footsteps came along the bridge. “There he is!” Someone hollered.
An arm was slipped under his head as a medic leaned over, making Iosif sip from a water bottle. “Get the stretcher!” The agent called back.
“Please…” Iosif grabbed the medic’s arm.
“It’s okay, we’ll get you patched up.”
“It’s not that. Site India Sierra. He’s going there.”
This caught the medic’s attention, as well as another soldier. It was Iosif’s C.O. “Who?” His superior said, “Don’t go on me, Iosif. Who’s headed there?” His side ached and felt like it was on fire, the blood still dribbling out. “WHO?”
But it was too late, Iosif’s head lulled back, indicating that he had entered a deep sleep.
Carefully, the dark-blue furred beast climbed farther into the Atal Mountains, his fur still shimmering from the thunderstorm he’d left behind. He was still three miles away, but he could swear he heard Éxtinctionists moving all around him. Vadim knew at once why and he smiled proudly. “Let them come.” He snarled menacingly, pulling himself over another ledge of ground. What the Éxtinctionists didn’t know was just how long he’d been waiting for this. After all, good things come to those who wait.