Gove jogged through the swamp, easily following the trail of destruction. A small herd — eleven! only eleven! — of peccaries could absolutely tear up the place when left to their own devices. The low-lying mist pooled in ruts they’d carved in the soft ground on their way through. The sun was peeking through the trees, sparkling off the water to her left, spotlighting eddies in the morning’s mist as the breeze worked its way through. It was only now getting hot enough for the bugs to wake up, which was a mercy.
Gove hit her herding stick against trees in frustration as she lost the trail; she wasn’t a tracker, and when the herd had left the soft ground for rocky turf she had no idea how to tell where they went. She was walking in a widening circle when she caught a noise on the breeze.
She ran through a stand of dead trees, cursing her hogs and whatever chaos they’d gotten into, and pushed her way through a thorny berry bush, only to stand up on the other side, shake herself off, and realize her peccaries weren’t alone.
The herd had broken into another fenced paddock — she could see exactly where they’d smashed open the gate — and were harrassing six or seven huge unhappy muskoxen. Clinging to the back of one of them was a man, as discombobulated as his animals and also cursing the pigs.
Gove stood there stunned at the chaos for a moment, and finally summed up her feelings: “Shit.”
The man’s head snapped up and he turned his exasperated stare on her. “Please tell me you’re here for these monsters.”