“Hoh? Soldiers? And are those guides with them? No, more like researchers...”
Despite being a significant distance away, Louie’s senses could pick up on the features of the new visitors as they approached.
It was a small group of people, some of whom were armed to the teeth. He could detect about fifteen of them. About two-thirds were combatants, and the remainder seemed to just plod along at their own pace. They trudged slowly through the forest, and from time to time the unarmed members of the group would crouch down for a closer look at some plant or animal before taking a photograph.
“If it’s just an exploration then why the need for soldiers?”
Louie felt slightly puzzled over this state of affairs.
Indeed there were many parts of the world that anthropologists, ecologists, and zoologists would love to visit, and the Amazon jungle was one of these scientific hotbeds. Many parts of it remained untouched by modern civilization and as such there were many mysteries within it that were yet to be revealed. Naturally, it held a powerful allure for those of the biological sciences, but ideally, they should have been accompanied by local guides and not soldiers.
Louie felt a sense of alarm creep up his spine.
‘Have I perchance been discovered somehow? In that case, would this be a reconnaissance party? What shitty luck!'
Louie was sure that there were still many undiscovered species in the world. That said, he had only lived on Earth as a dragon for a few days, and he had never left the Amazon jungle. Who could possibly be so bored as to watch the forest day and night for any potential disturbance and then send a search party soon after?
The Amazon jungle was absolutely huge - about half the landmass of China. It was crazy to think that someone had spent resources poring through all the satellite footage of the area before finding a strange lizard.
‘But this is also a chance for me to get in touch with modern humans. Perhaps it might prove to be quite fruitful...’
Louie’s eyes flashed with excitement.
As he had not yet mastered Ultimate Transformation, he could not yet sneak into human society. His large frame prevented him from doing so. Unless he transformed into a demigod again, he would be no match against human technology as well. Perhaps in the future, he would, but for now, it was impossible.
Given that he was the only one on Earth with extraordinary powers, he could set aside some of his worries. Although scientific understanding had led to some impressive achievements, the lack of any true magic system meant he had an advantage over Earthlings in some respects.
‘Not to mention, I don’t need to make a permanent positioning device on the Earth’s side. According to the Intelligent Brain, I can simply leave Earth anytime and return to the world of San Soliel. This is simply the best escape tool!’
With this confidence, Louie became bolder. Even if humans launched nuclear weapons, as long as he left Earth for San Soliel before it detonated, he could escape. Nuclear warheads could blow through matter, but could they destroy the very fabric of time and space? Of course not. If they were that powerful, perhaps the humans of Earth would already have colonized the stars.
Feeling confident in his survivability, Louie began to ponder over his next course of action.
‘Fullness for the bold, famine for the timid. No matter... I’ll just do it like this!’
The forest’s humidity would be nigh unbearable for most people from temperate climates, but the soldiers on the site had gone through worse in their training. If they had any qualms about the environment, it would be the need for frequent maintenance of their equipment.
They did not know what their mission was, or what they were searching for. They were just acting according to the captain’s orders.
In fact, even the captain did not know what exactly this mission was going to be. Like the officers below him, he was simply a cog in the system.
“Everyone, take five,” said Professor Johnson who was in the lead.
At his words, a few soldiers stopped and rested on the spot while others remained standing with their guards kept up. The students following the professor also took a breather.
With the mosquitoes, insects, and humidity, the trek through the jungle was uncomfortable, to say the least. It was definitely not for the unprepared.
The soldiers spoke in low voices, and the students began to talk and laugh, comforted by the security the military’s presence afforded them.
Professor Johnson took out a high-calorie bar to replenish his energy, but then he stood up. From the corner of his eye, he had detected something. He walked a short distance and parted the bushes.
“Sweet Mother of God!!!”
His cry put the soldiers on alert. Even the students rushed to their feet.
The group came up behind Johnson. The captain was the first to ask a question, “What’s wrong, Professor?!”
“These footprints,” he pointed at several impressions on the earth, “Look closely at them. I have studied many animals, but they do not resemble anything I’ve seen before. Quick, take photos!”
The ecstatic students followed their professor’s orders and rushed, cameras and rulers in hand, to document the discovery. The professor himself seemed to become increasingly agitated.
“Unbelievable! Unbelievable!!! Can you believe it? From this footprint and these tail marks, the creature is definitely a few meters in size. Based on the firmness of the soil here and the depth of the footprint, I suspect that it weighs at least 30 tons! My God, even an African elephant weighs only a ton at most. There shouldn’t be such a huge monster in the Amazon jungle. Can you guess what I’m guessing?”
Johnson’s voice went into a frenzy and even trembled with excitement. The captain and the soldiers, however, could not understand what he was getting at.
Out of all creatures that have appeared on Earth, the only ones to leave this kind of footprint, have such body length, and such weight would only be the Earth’s former overlords. The race that had gone extinct 65 million years ago!
“Could it be that dinosaurs still exist in the Amazon?”
The students chattered among themselves.
The captain, on the other hand, kept his composure. Remembering his instructions and surmising that the footprints were related to his mission, he hurriedly turned to the professor and asked, “Professor, can this creature be tracked?”
Even if they could not chase after the creature, they could still scan the area with a helicopter. It would be hard for such a behemoth to remain hidden given its size.
As for any potential danger in encountering it, the captain was not too worried. They were a well-armed squad, and even if a Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared, they could gun it down easily. The real difficulty was taking it alive for study.
Johnson’s heart pounded in excitement. He too finally understood why the soldiers were here. The government had probably discovered something related to the creature that left these tracks, and it had sent the army to investigate. If so, he would cooperate with them even more. If they were to really find any prehistoric creature, he would be able to leave his name in history.
“The mud is still fresh. The creature just passed by here not long ago, and its size should prevent it from hiding its traces. We should catch up with it soon if we hurry!!”
“Then we give chase!” the captain barked.
At this, all parties’ exhaustion fled from their bodies, and they excitedly followed the tracks.
The road ahead only revealed more evidence that pointed to the size of the massive creature. Toppled trees, crushed shrubs, and deep footprints revealed more traces of its path and existence.
“Sir, I don’t know why, but my heart is suddenly tightening.”
At this time, a soldier voiced his inexplicable unease.
“I also feel it. Be careful. I think something’s not right.”
The captain's experience allowed him to feel the eerie silence. Terror went straight to his heart, causing him to take a deep breath, and he ordered his team to be on guard.
It didn’t take long before they heard the sound of flowing waters. As they made their way through the grove of trees they arrived at the banks of a river. There, they found exactly what they were looking for.