This chapter is one of my weakest chapters since it really has nothing to do with the storyline. But through this chapter I tried to show a few things, such as the severity of these characters' training and the planet that once was the crown jewel of their combined government and military forces.
Exposed to the planet's harsh weather, the young wolf Yuri huddled up against himself. Glancing up at the sky, he could see the gray clouds swirling overhead. They threatened for a long night of storms. Overlooking the horizon, the ruins of the city Coltbosa was already covered by the dark clouds. Skyscrapers that haven't collapsed were crumbling to the weather and time. Once the capital of the combined might of all United Defense military powers, now crumbling into nothing after being deserted for hundreds of years.
Isolated and alone, Yuri sighed and closed his eyes from the ruins. His ears stayed alert to the unstable weather but he desired nothing more than to close his eyes and wake up when it all was over. Alone, high in a severely damaged air control tower, Yuri slept, dreaming of what has happened to him.
"How did you pups bypass all the sensors?" asked Chief Colin's voice. After all the wolf pups were caught, the Chief himself was attempting to interrogate them. No one spoke a word, or even looked up from their blank stare at the ground.
"Trainers," Chief Colin redirected his voice to their personal guards. "Do any of you know the placement of the vent sensors?"
"No sir!" they said at once.
"Neither do I," said the Chief. "How these pups knew their location is something of a mystery. No one has ever managed to get nearly as far as these five had. Cadet Kaitlin, tell me how you were able to steal one of my dropships and leave the facility."
The she wolf didn't respond, or even flinch at the mention of her name. It was true that both the she-wolves managed to steal a ship and leave the facility but an Immunity pilot shot out main power of the ship and returned them both to the facility.
Chief Colin sighed. "They're not going to talk," he muttered, pressing his paw to his forehead. The fox shook his head before standing straight up again. "Very well. Trainers return these pups back to their bunk and make sure they don't leave them this time. Maybe Gilda will have some insight to this."
While the pups were led away from the Chief's office, the lead scientists passed them, Gilda. The ermine wore her lab coat as always and walked briskly pass the wolves. She was rumored to be without a heart, but Yuri could have sworn that he saw content on her face when she briefly glanced at the five escorted wolves.
Yuri had no doubt that night that their punishment would be severe, especially if it came from Dr. Gilda Rea. After falling asleep under the watchful eye of all their trainers, Yuri next woke on this planet, Lutracha, alone. A planet long destroyed by an ancient war, full of dangerous mutated creatures and severe weather.
Clouds began to crash into each other with intensely bright lightning, flashing against Yuri's closed eyelids. Pounding thunder rolled across the land, causing the earth to vibrate in its wake. The young wolf placed his paws over his ears and attempted to turn away from the flashes.
The sky grew darker as night settled in and with it came the cold rain. Yuri suffered through the storm while it raged through the night and only subsided an hour before dawn. Yuri, miserable and soaked, was relieved when he saw the sky brighten. He was used to being sleep deprived but not in such a miserable state.
Once morning dawned, Yuri left the building and headed toward the ruins. He knew he had to find his team, and if his team was on the planet then they would head toward the nearest city. The air field base landing strips and pads were severely damaged, fractures that shattered its surface allowing small dangerous planets to grow. Avoiding those plants the small wolf traversed his way across the airfield, heading for the horizon.
Hangars were all leveled now, with partial skeletons of the ancient aircrafts still decaying. This airfield wasn't hit directly but Yuri found it strange to find it so well intact after centuries of decay.
A shallow river crossed the wolf's path. Stopping, the wolf knelt down next to it and examined the water. It was tinted, even in the morning light, too polluted to even think about drinking. Whatever creatures that thrived in this pollution would be no friend to the wolf; he could not wade through the water.
Walking along the shore of the river, Yuri searched for another way to cross. But he began to grow weary when he found no place to cross that wouldn't require him to go into the forest. The trees were once barren but they still live with brown needles covering them. Those creatures who survived the fallout, mutated and aggressive.
He had no choice, he had to enter the forest. Once several meters in, the sounds of cries and screams of the wildlife were heard. Stealthily, Yuri proceeded deeper into the forest cautious to avoid making noise to the best of his ability. Several trees that were truly dead and barren were collapsed into the river but none crossed completely.
Continuing his search, a slither of movement near the creek bed drew Yuri's attention. He halted and gazed on the location of the movement for a moment. A line of well-placed rocks slithered again, causing the young wolf to jump back barely containing a yelp. The rocks had eyes on one end. It was a snake.
Keeping his distance, Yuri tried for a closer look. It definitely was some type of snake, skin almost perfectly camouflaged with the surrounding rock. The creature moved toward the water and submerged itself. No doubt the skin was as tough as rock to help insulate it from the radiation. The young wolf did not want to learn what else has changed about these simple creatures.
For the amount of trees that were officially dead, Yuri found it surprising that none fell completely across the river. All that once did were already decayed and washed down the river. But still not a single tree fell across the river? The wolf noticed that the river swelled at certain areas and narrowed at others. It was possible for him to try to build a bridge across the narrower parts.
Concluding that building a bridge was the only way to cross without losing sight of the city, Yuri ventured into the dangerous areas of the forest, gathering large logs that he dragged across the forest floor and lay gently across the river. Repeating the process, the wolf learned more about the mutated creatures in the forest; furless tree-climbing rodents, skittish four-legged hoppers and even a short humanoid creature with slimy skin watching the wolf with massive eyes from a branch of a tree. Yuri was reluctant to turn his back to that creature.
Finally content with the bridge's stability, Yuri placed his hindpaw on the logs and balanced himself on them. They shifted slightly but did not threaten to throw the wolf off. Shifting his weight and taking another step, the young wolf did not feel the logs shift at all. Pleased, Yuri easily paced across the river and finally made it to the other side.
Resuming his journey to the city, Yuri knew he could have waded across a shallow part of the river but he was satisfied that he didn't. If that snake-like creature was so well camouflaged then who knows what other creatures live on the bottom of that river.
While the sun that remained powerless to break through the dark clouds rolled across the sky, Yuri walked out of the forest and entered the flattened remains of entire neighborhoods. Rough foundations are all that remained, overgrown by brown and thorny bushes. Not even trees regrew here.
Walking over the houses that millions have lived and died in, Yuri did his best attempt to push the history that he knows of the planet out of his mind. It was the single most tragic event in history. Crossing dozens of foundations, Yuri wondered how many graves he walked over. Then he came across a large overgrown road that looked similar to the airfield base; a highway. Looking up, it led directly into the city.
Changing direction, Yuri followed the road into the city, a journey that took him most of the day. He only reached the outskirts, but the ruins was far worse than he expected. Even after centuries of resting, the city was still a disaster. One would expect nature to reclaim it after so much time but the civilization that once lived here was not the only one to suffer on this planet.
Streets were filled with debris from collapsed buildings, and those buildings left standing were in ruin. Glancing through the open wounds of the first several, Yuri could not find a way through them. The tallest standing building was on the either side of the city; he had to either get through or go around the city.
Risking a dead end the young wolf headed straight into the city, crawling over debris and squeezing his way through the buildings. Several times, the other side of the buildings were closed off to him so Yuri had to backtrack or climb a few levels before he found a way through the building. It was a slow process, and the sun would set soon.
With light fading in the short day on the planet, Yuri found himself in the middle of the city where few buildings remained standing. This is where the city was bombed hardest. With the sun setting, this was also where Yuri would have to settle down for the night. Several stories high in one of the few remaining buildings, he concealed himself in a room with windows and limited exposure to the environment.
The days were short, but with the dark clouds the days seemed even shorter. The storms returned with the darkness, intertwined with each other without end. Concealed to that weather however, the sole occupant of the dead city managed to fall sleep.
Short like the previous day, the night passed and yielded to the morning light. With the sky dully lit through the clouds, Yuri woke and immediately set off toward his destination. The tower grew taller while the wolf drew closer but it still was several kilometers off. Yet another building barred the wolf's path, so he climbed into an opening but before he could continue he noticed that the floor was missing. A large earthen pool replaced it as if a spring opened up in the middle of the floor.
Cautiously searching for a way around without wading into the water, which its depth could not be seen, Yuri lined the walls where the floor was still partial intact. The sound of a bubble surfacing drew his attention, and gazing across the pool again he saw a pair of eyes watching him. Another slimy creature like the one that he saw in the forest near the river. Yuri stared back at the creature, waiting to see what it'd do.
Neither one of them moved for several minutes, so the wolf decided to continue on his way but not without keeping a weary eye on the creature. Crawling over boulders, and hopping stones that crossed the pool's edge, Yuri finally managed to get around and find another opening in order to exit the building. However, he knew that he was being followed by that slimy creature. No aggression was expressed by them, so he ignored the roughly humanoid creature.
Approaching the tower with the creature trailing him, movement was seen in an blast wound of the building. Something else was already in the tower. Cautiously, Yuri continued to approach, but the creature behind him seemed unaware of the danger and remained out in the open.
"Yuri! Hurry up!" echoed Alex's voice.
Glancing around, Yuri only saw the creature but nevertheless hurried toward the tower. His pack leader was already there. The creature fell behind and Yuri ran through the front doors of the tower. It was the only building he's come across that still had its front doors intact. Once inside the doors immediately shut, halting the wolf in his tracks. Alex and Mary were behind him, barring the door shut. Once the door was barred they turned their attention to the younger wolf.
"Yuri," exclaimed Alex. "Where've you been? Have you seen A.J. or Kaitlin?"
He shook his head. "I woke up on an airfield base south of the city. I haven't seen anyone until I got here."
"What about that thing that was following you?" Alex asked, leading Yuri and Mary deeper into the tower.
"It's been following me for a few hours," replied Yuri. "I've seen a couple of them now. Neither were aggressive. Is this what our punishment was supposed to be?"
"Being marooned on Lutracha. No doubt it was Dr. Rea's suggestion," exasperated Mary.
"We don't know why we're here," explained Alex, passing through another set of doors. "But I don't think we're permanently marooned here. No doubt Dr. Rea knew we'd try to find a way off the planet so that's what we will do once A.J. and Kaitlin are found."
"Any idea where they are?" questioned Yuri.
"No. If they dropped you off in the airfield base, then our locations are completely random. There's no way to know where the others were dropped off at. If they're even on the same continent."
"I've rigged up a radio to broadcast over the planet," boasted Mary. "If they don't find us within a week, they will attempt the same thing but our broadcast will already be there."
"When you were at the airfield base, see any ship still capable of flight?"
"No. During the war the base must have been hit pretty hard. Beside the ancient technology wouldn't have helped us get off the planet."
"But it would help us find A.J. and Kaitlin faster," chimed Mary.
"Not to mention that we would have a significant advantage over the dangerous creatures on this planet," Alex said. They stopped in the ruins of an office where five cots have been made. "That's a shame then. Mary, update the broadcast."
"Yes sir," she said.
Three wolf pups marooned on a dead planet and scattered. Doubts lingered whether this punishment was permanent or not.