Into The Mountains

The bitter wind scratched the soldier's face like a feral cat.  His eyes were barely open because of how harsh the wind was.  Many believed that being a member of ECHELON 12, or the Prophets Legion was the hardest job in the Military.  However, that was not the case, or at least not in Alan’s eyes.  Border Patrol was the hardest.  The Alpenraum Border Patrol, or the ABP, was a part of the Eternal Legion tasked with stopping illegal drug flow from Alpenraum, specifically weed.  In recent years, Alpenraum made recreational weed completely legal,  And as such there was easy access.  Seeing the opportunity, Dealers would attempt shipping it to Candanadium and sell it for higher prices.  As such, The Border Patrol and Coast Guard has seen heightened activity.  Alan decided he had enough thinking, and went back into the cabin, where 3 other Border Guards were playing cards.  He noticed they all had a patch with a blue rose vineyard wrapping around a red cross.  They were the search and rescue division of the Border Patrol.  At the end of the day, smuggling drugs is extremely dangerous, especially in these mountains.  It was also common for hikers and hunters to get lost in the mountains, and need rescue.  As if on queue, the phone rang.  One of the SAR troops answered it. After a few minutes of talking back and forth, he hung up the phone.   

“We’ve got a report of a missing hiker.  His age is around 30, and is wearing a bright neon coat. He was last seen about 20 miles from us, near the village of Ruddorf. Let’s move.”.  He turned to Alan.  

“If you’re not doing anything, you should come with us.  Extra eyes are always better.”.  Alan nodded.  “Let me get my gear on.”

In a matter of 5 minutes, they were in the ABP Veep Bangalore, the ABP’s modified offroading vehicle.  They quickly descended down the mountain, heading on the path towards Ruddorf.  Luckily for them, Ruddorf had a snowmobile station that they could use to help find the missing person.  

“What was his name again?” Alan asked. 
“His name is Johann Nachtberg.” The Captain answered.

“I know him.” Alan responded.  “Well, not him, but some of his family, My family’s friends with his cousin’s family.  I should call them when I have the chance, they moved to the capital recently with their daughter, Charlotte.”.  
They passed a sign saying 5 km to the village.  “Almost there.”  the SAR troop said.

They eventually reached the village, where the wife of Johann was waiting near the snowmobiles.  They quickly got out of the Bangalore, and locked it.

“I’m guessing you’re Brunhild?” the Captain asked.

“Y-yes.”  the woman responded, shaking in the cold with only a pair of shorts and a t shirt on, along with pink fuzzy slippers.  

“Alright, please describe the last time you saw him and if you saw which direction he went.”

“We had been arguing about moving to Ankton so I could work a better job and, without any warning, he just goes out the door.”.  She took a breath and continued.

“I thought he’d come back after half an hour or so, but it’s been four hours.  He always liked going into the mountains, but a massive snowstorm is about to hit.”.  Alan looked to the sky, and in the distance saw the clouds rolling in.

“He most likely went northeast, on the Devine Trail, his favorite.  Here’s a picture of him.”.  Brunhild gave them a photo of Johann.  “Please, find him.”

“We’ll try our best, ma’am.”.  The Captain responded.  “Get on the snowmobiles, we’re moving now.”

Soon enough, Alan was riding on the Devine Trail, his snowmobile bouncing and jumping over lumps of snow and ice.  Despite the conditions, the Devine trail was quite beautiful.  The mountains surrounding them were beautiful, despite it being at night.  All the while, he scanned the area and called out for Johann, with no response.  After a few hours, still no luck.  They had üto give up now, as if they stayed, the storm would swallow them along with Johann.  

“We’ve got to give up the search now, let’s head to the bar to plan where we search when the storm breaks tomorrow.” the Captain said.  The others agreed, and descended towards the village.

As soon as Alan stepped in the bar, it was like a tsunami of alcohol and cigarette smoke flooded his nostrils.  The sound of jazz music tickled at his ears.  The typical bar at night.  The troops sat down in a booth and pulled out a map of the trails in the area, including the Devine Trail.  

“Assuming he’s still alive, we should split off around the trail and search for areas where a person could have taken shelter, for examp-” he was interrupted by an extremely drunk man.  He stumbled in the booth like a dog on three legs.  

“Hello, t-troops!”.  His speach was slurred and slow.  He stumbled into a crooked stance.  “V-vielgerühmter Allpenraum!”.  He saluted, and proceeded to fall face first onto the table.

“Wait a minute.”.  Alan said, and took out the photo of Johann.  Alan sighed, and said, “This is Johann.”

The drunk man mumbled, “T-that’s me!”.  

“Well, we found our missing person.” the Captain said, trying to hide his laughter.  “Let’s take this guy home.”.

After convincing the drunken Johann that they were not taking him home, but instead taking him to a medal ceremony for him because he was “The savior of Alpenraum.”. They proceeded to  carry him all the way back to a very angry wife. 

“You made these young men risk their lives just for you to be at the damn BAR!?”.  The woman yelled.

“W-where’s my savior of Alpenraum medal?” Johann asked.

“It’s right inside buddy.” the Captain said, giving the wife the look that read “I had no other choice.”.  Sighing, she took him inside, and after a few minutes, came back outside.

“Things have been bad here, and i’m trying to get us out of here, but Johann doesn’t want to leave.”.  She paused.  “He loves it alot here, and I know it’s hard for him to leave, but he has to do it for his family.”.  

“It’s funny when I heard your name, because I know Claire and her family.”.  Alan said.  “My parents are friends with them.”.  

“Oh, my sister in law? What a coincidence.”.  She laughed.  “You all should stay here, Even with your car it could be dangerous driving in this storm.”.

“Are you sure?”. Alan responded.  She nodded, and opened the door for them.  It was a fairly sized house, decorated in a fashion that Alan could only describe as a 1940s style, more commonly known as the pre-war style.  The War of the Bloody Rose shot Alpenraum to industrialize and modernize at an extremely rapid pace.  Before, Alpenraum was a collection of villages and a few cities, with barely any connection besides being in the same nation.  However, during and after the war, Alpenraum built up their cities,roads, and railways to move supplies and troops faster, and as such, modernized Alpenraum.  

Alan looked around the house, and eventually noticed a Eternal Legion hat with light blue lines hanging on the coat rack.

“Who’s hat is that?” Alan asked.

“Oh, Johann is a veteran of the Eternal Legion’s Coast Guard Division. He served for four years, and was a Petty Officer First Class.”.

“Interesting.”. Johann responded.  Johann sat on the couch while the others took a smoke break outside.  The storm rolled in soon after, and the others came back inside the house.  After a waiting a while, the storm died down enough to where Alan and the others could leave.

“Thank you for letting us stay.”.  Alan said.

“It’s the least I could have done to thank you all for helping my husband back home.”

Soon after, they were back on the path to the cabin, and as they were, Alan looked out the window.  The grand mountains were extra beautiful after fresh snow had fallen onto them. Despite all the annoyance of sitting in a cabin all day, there were some good moments.  And this was one of them.

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