Floodlights lit up the mustering square outside the concrete barracks, both the elves and humans formed up according to their respective squads, both races had been doing joint exercises lately, devised by Staff Pike.
Lt Frank stood watching the men forming up and doing roll calls, "Why are there like so much missing marines and security? What happened?" He noticed the number of reporting strength is lesser than the usual.
Sgt Collins shook his head, "Those dumb asses had all reported in sick,"
Frank turned, surprised, "What happened? Some kind of virus?"
"No, Sir!" Collins replied, "Recently they have been dared by the survey teams to eat the stuff they brought back without going through proper checkup first, those arseholes thought it was funny."
"What?" Frank looked pissed, "Are they that stupid?"
"Bunch of kids," Collins shrugged, "Lucky no one is badly sick from the inedible stuff, Doc is quite pissed off too. She's threatening to give anyone else who tried food that is untested a major enema with her largest syringe." Collins grinned.
"Hahaha," Franks laughed along, "Well hope those punks learn their lessons. When Staff Pike gets back from the Pass, hahaha, they are so going to hell."
Collins grinned wickedly, before turning his attention back to the roll call. "Alright LT, all here, except for those reported sick."
"Brief the men, by 0600, all units are to be loaded up and ready to move out at any moment," Frank ordered.
Collins gave a salute and jogged off, yelling for the NCOs to gather up. The integrated squads now consisted of a single marine, acting as an in charge and a security personnel as the 2nd I/C and the rest of the ten men squad were filled by the Goldies, armed with swords and up teched short ranged repeating crossbows.
The marines turned in their M7A1s and instead carried the 5mm PDWs and everyone also started carrying a sword or a machete with them along too. They used the armory diamond grinder to grind the Empire's short swords into a hacking blade design which the crew preferred.
The Goldie soldiers treated the machetes as some high tier godly weapon as it could cut through armor easily due to it mono blade edges, while the sharpened swords have a better edge compared to before, much to the crew's amusement.
Two half-tracks painted in a digital camo scheme of blues, greens, black and greys, accompanied by another two more jeeps in the same color scheme, rolled into the muster ground. Five squads will set off to the site where the sailors were last seen once the sun is up.
Frank stood inside his office in the barrack's admin building, watching the men milling around by the newly arrived vehicles, and hoped that the mission will go well, which will bond the human and elven soldiers, closer.
"Ahoy the ship!" The bosun yelled from rocking longboat, of the 30 odd sailors who went down to shore, only nine survived, including the bosun. "Lower the hoists!"
The bosun had fled the instant he knew that there was something very wrong, thus he managed to survive with the eight others left watching the boat at the beach.
"What happened?" The Captain yelled down from the side of the hull, "Where's the replacement mast?"
"Sir, it was terrible sir!" The bosun after climbing back up the ship reported. "Monsters ate all the men! I was barely able to escape!"
"What?" Omaj cursed loudly, thinking quickly, his ship without the top mainmast will lose some speed, especially if they want to run from the goblin pirates. "The carpenter? And the boy?"
The bosun shooked his head and didn't dare to meet his eyes.
Omaj slammed his fist against the wooden railing, losing the ship's carpenter was a serious hit, the boy slave is just money, which can be earned back, but without the ship's carpenter, if even if they have spare spars to repair the topmasts, they can't!
"Bring up the longboat, we will take a chance at running pass the goblin pirates before the sun is up!" Omaj ordered, "Clear the decks! Prepare to go silent sailing!"
TThe crew of the Wave Dancer jumped at his orders, quickly retrieving and securing the longboat back in its berth. The anchor was raised up while other hoisted the sails down, catching the morning breeze. The ship's navigator directed the helmsman softly and the ship slowly started moving off, the figurehead of a lady dancer dipped into the waves, forming a small bioluminescent bow wave.
The boy jerked awake suddenly, feeling his back cold and damp with morning dew. He sat listening to the surrounding of the forest, trying to sense if those monsters are still around. Finally gathering enough courage, he peers his head out of the hollowed trunk, peeking over the tree roots.
Seeing and hearing nothing, except for the sounds of insects and animals waking up from the morning sun, the gloomy and dark forest slowly lit up as the first sun rays pierce through the trees' canopy.
As the world slowly brightens around the boy, he felt the peaceful forest totally different from what he had experienced last night, like it was all a dream. He squeezed his aching body out between the roots and stretched his joints and muscles, feeling them cramping as he stayed in the same position for hours.
Finally feeling better, he set off towards the area where they last fell the tree. Picking his bare feet over the wet morning mild dew, he skipped over patches of bloody scraps, a testimonial to last night carnage and found the work site.
Bloody bits of body parts littered the site, with dark stains of coagulated blood sprinkled all over the area. He started to quickly gather up equipment and gear from the litter around the site. He grabbed a fallen cutlass and an abandoned oilskin knapsack. filling it with wet sea biscuits which had fallen off from somewhere or someone, a waterskin, lamp oil held in a tiny wooden cask and a cracked storm lamp.
He looped the cutlass into the cloth band around his pants and bundled his feet with scraps of bloodied cloth to protect them and hurried off without another look at the bloodied site.
As the boy headed deeper into the forest, he stops and cast a simple spell, which several specks of green light appeared and point towards a direction. Gritting his teeth, the boy waved the spell away and set off, all the while keeping his ears and eyes open for any signs of the monsters from the night before.
"I will take my revenge!" He said to himself as he pushed his frail body deeper into the forest, stopping here and there to take a short break or a drink of water and a bite of moldy biscuits.
Collins gripped the side handle of the jeep as it bounced along the flattened grass, the lead jeep had cut a swath through the tall swaying grass which the other vehicles followed. The fresh sweet smell of fresh cut grass assailed Collins's nose, making him want to sneeze.
As they approached the edge of the forest, Collins turn on both his motion and heartbeat sensors attached to his harness, the high-powered ultrasound device used doppler-shift discrimination and wifi signals to filter out moving objects from stationary background objects and then displayed them on a small monitor with beeps to indicate positive returns of movement or heartbeats.
The lead vehicle rolled to a stop and the rest followed, "Alright! We are here!" Collins spoke into his comms, and leaped off the jeep, landing with a crunch on the grassland. "Form up in your squads!"
The rear tailgate of the half-tracks opened up and the men exited and formed up into their squads before heading into the forest. "Keep a 15-meter distance from each squad! All men are to have a line of sight to each other!" Collins called out in a mix of Common and English. "Move out!"
Three squads deployed into the forest while a single squad was left behind guarding the vehicles. The men spread out, supported by a motion and heartbeat tracker from each squad. Not long after, they arrived at the site of the massacre.
Collins looked up at the thick canopy, while his radioman walked around, trying to contact Base, before coming up to Collins. "Sarge, we can't get a proper signal out, we have to deploy a fixed line up to the trees over the canopy if we want a proper signal."
"Roger," Collins turned to the men checking the area out and yelled. "Alright make a quick sweep of the area, see if there are any survivors, and see if there is anything useful to salvage back!"
The men and elves went to work, combing the area, calling out to see if there is anyone still alive and picking up equipment from the ground.
"Want not, waste not," Collins said to his radioman, "Damn, these guys got torn up pretty bad," He poked at a bit of bloody gristle with his machete which the local insects and flies had started to feast on the carnage.
"SARGE!" Someone yelled, "I got a heartbeat reading here!"