The Lumber Mill

8.3.5 SW
Morning SW-CP-Local Time
Crowning Point > Lumber Mill

Keeping his eyes alert for movement in the woods on either side of the road, the Marshal stepped over to the ATV and switched the key off. Everything seemed quiet, calm. It all felt more like spring than late summer, like brand new. The clear sky, cool breeze, and everything damp with drops of rain. The day was warming up with the morning sun after the storm the night before. Swaths of mist were forming in the ferns. Strange birds that the Marshal had never heard chattered to each other the trees. None of the other officers were showing any signs of things being off with the wildlife so the Marshal knew they were not in any immediate danger.

The Crowning Point Security Team proceeded to the Lumber Mill grounds to begin a preliminary search for the missing man. This was going to be a lot of ground to cover so the team shouted out for the missing man and boy, their weapons at the ready as they moved quickly to scour through the piles of lumber and heavy machinery.

Their quick search proved mostly fruitless as there was no response to the calls of the search team except for the forest fowl and a small pool of clear slimy resin of some kind near the overseer's lodge windows. The slime didn't seem to be leaving a trace in any particular direction. He tried the office door, it was locked. He was sure that the missing man wasn't inside but he keyed his radio to send in another 4 officers to keep up the search in the area around the mill and he would proceed to Ghost Forest to continue his search for James. "Bring the keys for all of the mill, backups if you have them."

This seemed like a waste of time and he want to get back to searching for the kid. As he made his way back onto the gravel road to the FAV, there came a distant reverberating growl from some seemingly large animal off in the forest to the northwest and a flock of birds took flight. The Marshal looked to the other officers to gauge their reactions. A couple of them stopped in their tracks for a moment, listening to the creature then checking their guns. Not terribly concerned, they continued their search so the Marshal took this to mean that while it could be something dangerous, the men felt confident enough that it wouldn't impede their search.

"What was it?" the Marshal asked one of the men.

"I dunno. There's tons'a critters out in them woods. Not all of 'em friendly neither. But we got the tools, Marshal. Don't you worry 'bout that." he smirked.

"Yeah?" the Marshal cocked an eyebrow.

"Viper cats? Cervine Foxes? Storm Flies? Hell, we could handle wunna them harvester worm thingies they got on Tartarus." the man laughed cockily.

The Marshal couldn't help but smile at the bravado of the merc. He turned away and picked up his radio again. "Wolfhound to Gauss, you're with me. Heading out towards Comms 1."

"Roger, on my way." Gauss responded.

Suddenly, he heard a rush of foliage and a painful scream from one of the officers. Quickly turning, the Marshal saw a herd of large deerlike animals spring from the woods and cross the road, one of them officers, the cocky one had been gored and thrown aside by the beast's antlers.

"Ah! God damnit!" shouted the man in agony as blood gushed from his shoulder and arm. He picked up his rifle and fired a few shots in their direction.

"Hey! That's enough!" shouted the Marshal. "Check your fire!"
Anyone could understand the frustration of the injured man but his reaction could've got someone hurt or killed. "One of you patch him up and get him to medical."

The Marshal sighed and looked out into the woods after the fleeing herbivores. There was a predator out there for sure and he hoped it wouldn't cause any more trouble.
"Don't worry about it, huh?" the Marshal muttered to himself, shaking his head at the careless words of the merc.

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