The following is an excerpt, with a snip to remove a spoiler:
Cellent came dashing into the room and closed the door behind him. Slammed the door might be more like it. He was sweaty.
"Hello. I hate to interrupt," he announced loudly, "and I hope you know that I wouldn't except for an emergency, but as we were patrolling the fence we came across some East Camp guys who had cut a hole in the fence and backed a truck up to it. We were just in time to watch them unload a couple of lions. I hate to admit being a professional guard and not knowing this already, but does anyone know how in the world people are supposed to deal with lions? Or what we have on hand to do that with?"
People stared at him.
"People! I am not joking. At the moment I regret, immensely and beyond words, that I have a reputation for idiotic playing around, but I assure you that I am not joking. East Camp has breached our fence and let loose very large carnivores with formidable jaws, teeth, and claws, and I have been sent by a flummoxed patrol party to summon help, and we are all too happy to admit that we don't know what-all sorts of help we need, just that we need it now, and probably the livestock will need help soon, too, but at the moment we'd just like to keep people from getting eaten, including the patrol party if at all possible, thank you very much."
"All right," Cephus said, in what struck Jeorj as a voice surprisingly like his usual managerial voice, "Neighborhood leaders, make sure everyone in your neighborhood is accounted for, and also that any of them not here at the meeting knows of the threat. If you have reasonably relevant emergency protocols in place, use them. Seezer, get however many men you need, and secure the livestock situation as well as you can, within reason. Don't skimp on men. And stick together. Lions aren't known to be intimidated by small groups, and I imagine the cattle won't be easy to manage once they get a whiff of lion. Pash, get immediate reinforcements to the patrol. Remember to keep an eye out for snipers or other violence and double dealing from East Camp in addition to however many beasts they've decided to give us. I'll get more men, tools, and weapons to you soon, once we have the women and children properly taken care of. Mannerly, you're in charge of anyone not yet tied to a neighborhood association, and in charge of seeing that we have organized prayers going up in addition to our individual ones. Any questions? All right, let's roll."
Jeorj, avoiding Seezer's eye like the plague so that he couldn't get assigned to cattle or chicken duty, ran over to attach himself to Pash and Cellent.
Fil and Mr. Adamson (the man he most liked to sit beside at church) were right on his heels.
"It's all right. We have Serenity and her mom and brothers assigned to somebody," Fil said, as if that settled every qualm Jeorj or Pash might have.
It most certainly didn't settle Jeorj's main fear, which was to have Fil outside while lions were reportedly on the loose. On the other hand, Serenity's dad had a proper sort of proprietary look that suggested that any lion or other attacker would have to get past him as well as past Jeorj to get to the boy. Plus, Pash and the other men would probably keep a special eye out for the kid.
Their course took them past a garden plot, long since put to bed for the season. Cellent, struck by a desperate inspiration, bounded over the bare earth to the garden shed, yanked the door open, and disappeared inside. Hoes and shovels and spades and even a small seeding trowel flew out the door.
Cellent stuck his head out. "Sorry. If I'd been thinking, I would have tossed or handed the stuff to each of you, instead of endangering one and all with a rain of sharpened blades attached to handles. But I thought it would be good if we at least looked armed, don't you think? Would a rope be useful, do you think? There's one in here, but it looks skimpy to me. Ah, wait. There's wiring. Better yet."
Pash took over, rapidly distributing implements, and grabbing a tarp and the rope and wire that Cellent had discovered, before herding people forward again.
"There's one!" Fil yelled, pointing.
The group stopped. Sure enough, there was a lion. It was a half grown lion, a bit scraggly and awkward and not terribly muscled out yet, but probably enough of a lion to kill someone.
"Oh, oh," Cellent said. "The ones we saw didn't look that young. We are therefore up to three deadly cats on the loose, that I know about."
"We had better try to find the patrol, and make sure they're all right first," Pash said, but with uncertainty in his voice.
"I wish we had a gun," someone murmured.
"We do, sort of," Mr. Adamson's cousin Marshall said. "If you count this." He pulled a gunnish-looking device with a 14-inch barrel out of his pack. "But it's only a tranquilizer gun, and who knows if it works on cats?"
"I vote for giving it a shot," Cellent said. "Considering that we don't know if we'll ever have such a lovely staredown with this beast again. Or if we'd ever be able to even find it again, unless it finds us first in an ambush."
"The way it's looking at us, I wonder if it's half tamed already?" someone said.
"I wish you hadn't said that," Marshall said, as he aimed and fired.
The cub flinched when the dart hit, and moved off, looking more confused than frightened. It staggered, stumbled, fell.
"Can they be tamed? Really?" Fil asked, as they watched it lying on the ground, breathing oddly.
"Oh, let's hobble it and put a muzzle on, and figure it out later," Cellent said, grabbing the tarp and cord from Pash, while refusing to look him in the eye.
"You'll be in charge of that, will you? The long term bit, I mean," Pash asked, as Cellent made quick work of wrapping and tying the beast.
Cellent nodded. "Scientist's curse. Gotta see what works, you know," he joked. "There. That should hold. Onward!"
He jumped up and led off toward where he'd left the other men of the patrol. The group jogged carefully now, eyes busy, ears straining, wondering what else they might encounter, now that it had been established that the woods were infested with uncataloged imports.