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Book 1: The Siege of Fort Vagabond

Chapter 2 Part 4: Decision Time

“The rest is more hearsay from Base Commander’s local informants and older expeditions around Lake Tenkiller, some in the recovered note while others are from previous messages. The Cherokee are spooked. We got way more rumors of Ishkitini, gator men, and Lord knows what else popping up around the Lake. There seems to be a connection between the woods' growing hostility, and the lake for whatever reason. Not to mention more disappearances popping up in the surrounding regions, but oddly not on the Lake despite the growing spiritual wumbo jumbo which is suspect.” Bohdan almost rolled his eyes as he saw the confusion all over John’s face.

Their Saint of Firearms was still a skeptic at heart since he wasn’t around for their inauguration by fire with the poltergeist demons. That was probably going to change very soon if Hadrian had his way with this trip.

“Last of all, the Cartels have been filtering into Tulsa hard, and they seem to be setting up a distribution and production facility somewhere within the Cherokee nation. Judging by some of the traffic cam reports we’ve… appropriated, that facility is hidden around Tenkiller. That is just a hunch though. Still, Fort Vagabond Base Commander hasn’t been wrong yet.”

The Committee went mute at the information dump. A suppressed Makarov could’ve been heard the next county over the silence was so thick. Cartels at this point were basically just Aztec warlords expanding their turf with the military far too busy to care, or keep them in check. New Venice was far from the Mexican border, but not far enough.

“Well, that was the most apocalyptic description of the situation. Way to ruin the vibes Prez,” Brainiac moaned with exasperation dripping off each word. Bohdan turned back to the brat with an incredulous look.

That punk had brought up the rumors, and what strange unwelcome news it was. So weird that his father was working overtime to get out ahead of the nasty business. Blood Senior already had Johan’s old man, the Game Warden Captain, organizing a posse to go track down whatever had jumped Reggi the postman.

The mail was also paramount to keep out of unwanted hands as despite all their warnings secret material always ended up in the correspondence. They would’ve gone out anyway, but there was an extra fire under everyone's tails in case this was somehow a Fed sting operation they were trying to cover up with an animal attack, or even a military experiment attack monster. Not as far fetched as Saint John would think in this wild day and age.

“So as you can see there is something wild going on around Tenkiller, and there already has been rumors about a giant octopus shark monster as big as a horse in the lake taking swimmers. We got the reports of the shapeshifters and all kinds of bad voodoo vibes. We also have high strangeness with mystery attacks and related poltergeist activity amongst the Cherokee. This is a job for the Committee.”

“Besides,” continued Hardrian,” we all know the grownups are going to send out a posse, but somebody needs to check up on Fort Vagabond. The last correspondence was not apocalyptic by any means, but they have gone radio silent due to Draft Hunters in the vicinity. We already have our gear sorted and ready, we have experience with the Pride, and we have to do our own draft dodging ourselves since we all know the Draft Hunters Vagabond picked up around Boaz should be rolling into town in the next few weeks. Plus Tenkiller is beautiful. She aint the Keys, but who wants to see all the belugas in bikinis anyway? Not me. Plus we can test out the underwater capabilities of the Pride in friendlier waters than the open ocean,” Hadrian now finished, looked expectantly at Bohdan. Apparently it was decision making time.

“You're sold on this Charlie?”

“You know it Bo Bo. Even more now.”

“How long do you think the posse will take to track down this ‘animal’ that’s smart enough to steal mail Jo?” Bohdan asked Johan while leaning back, and staring up at the ceiling.

His hunting chair was at the head of the cross shaped cathedral. Above Bohdan’s seat of power was a mural that flowed over into the central dome that sat at the cross section between the nooks. The painting stretched over the marble roof, and depicted hunters chasing monsters and demons from various woods and decrepit houses to be destroyed in hellfire at the foot of the cross.

The violence on display had a calming effect on Bohdan despite the fact that he felt the weight of responsibility tightening around his throat with increasing force every second. A man had to own his decisions. These decisions involved his friends, and could be far more dangerous than the excitable Hadrian understood. He had a point about the need though.

The Committee was formed to hunt monsters for their town. Bohdan figured it was about time they got down to business. So he allowed the visage of the destruction of evil gird his loins as medieval knight might say, and faced the task ahead with squared shouldered determination.

Johan for his part was still pondering the question posed to him by his club president. For a time the warden in training seemed to lose himself to his rifle. Another leader might have got impatient, but Bohdan knew this was how the young marksmen’s brain worked. Always a task in his hands so his mind could churn. After a moment Johan answered without looking up.

“Hard to know. My father got back late last night so I expect he and the wardens had already been lookin. With a proper posse they’ll find the thing. If it’s just a bear mistaking some fruitcake in the mail bag for a snack they’ll find the animal fast. If this is more than just a curious oversized mammal they’ll be at it for at least a week. That’s rough terrain, and they have a lot of holes to root through. That’s assuming the thing is still hanging around, and hasn’t migrated or answered to some master’s call already.”

Bohdan closed his eyes. They all knew as much, but he had to know before he set their course. The President knew his father was going to need to send a crew out to touch base with Base Commander Stevens. That salty old vet was tough as nails, but for all they knew Fort Vagabound had to scatter into the woods to avoid Fed activity, or ambush Cartel flunkies. Communication needed to be established, and so far no one had been able to contact Vagabond on the emergency shortwave sets that were supposed to be usable even under radio silence protocols. Not a good sign, but not the first time their emergency radio comms had been disrupted. Not to mention the strangeness at Tenkiller was getting too close to Arkansas, and their little town for this Fearless Leader’s comfort.

“Harald, has the Sheriff office got word of any cult, or serial killer activity in the area we don’t know about yet?”

“Not so much serial. More like boogey men out in the woods type reports have been on the grapevine, but Oklahoma sheriffs don’t tell us everything.”

“How fast could we transfer our supplies over to the Pride John?” Their unofficial quartermaster Saint John made a few tisking noises, and was doubtlessly pursing his lips. Bohdan didn’t have to open his eyes to know what face he was making.

“Honestly, an hour or two. We’ll just switch out the offroad vehicles in the cargo hold for ours, and then add some extra provisions since this all sounds like we might be out even later than I was thinking. Factor in another five or so hours to stock the munition bunkers and top off fuel tanks.” Bohdan nodded.

“Are there any objections from the Committee before I bring this proposal to my old man?” The President asked.

“Not an objection, but how about we get the next arms shipment loaded up for Vagabond since we’re headed that direction on our way to the Lake?” Charlie suggested getting a moan out of John who was going to have to coordinate the effort.

“Sounds good, Karl, get some of your brothers together to make sure Saint John isn’t toast for our little excursion.”

“Will do Fearless Leader.”

Bohdan opened his eyes and sat up. He took a moment to look into each of his members' eyes. They all wanted blood for Reggi the postman, and more than one wanted to personally confirm loved ones safety to their mothers. That would motivate them, but the emotions may distract them. What was going on at Tenkiller might make an interesting adventure, and it might be nothing more than the death throes of a dying empire. It still remained to be seen how much hunting and liquidation this particular excursion might require.

“Meeting is adjourned. Get all your gear ready, and John, get the preparations started. If my pops signs off I want to leave Sunday.” Bohdan sighed as the lights turned on and the Committee jumped to their tasks. So much for a vacation in the Keys.

The Story Will Continue Every Saturday.

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Decision Time panel 5
Bohdan Blood was a busy young man. Being the President of the AH&L Committee in the middle of World War Three did that, but now rumors of witchcraft and Cartel incursions around his Ozark home were making things downright unhealthy. Together with his wily friends Bohdan and company will dodge drafts, hunt cryptids, and burn witches in style to keep their neck of the woods from looking like a New York hellscape. Just another day for the Adventure, Hunting, and Liquidation Committee.
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