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386 Jaeya, Her Longing and Foolishness

 Day 61 - 6:02 AM - Parking Area, Military Workshop, North District, Pasay City, Metro Manila

"Yawn~..."

Mark stretched his arms and back as he shook the sleepiness he had away.

He expected this to happen before he started this work yesterday afternoon. The remaining time of yesterday was not enough to finish the modification of the Lorry. Since he ended up getting hooked on his work, he had no problems pulling out an all-nighter.

Nevertheless, as the sun started to rise, he felt the need to sleep. It seemed that he had gotten used to getting sleep even just an hour or two every night. His body lost the ability to stay up for two or three days straight like when he was watching an anime marathon or getting hooked up on playing a video game.

Looking at the [Blood Children], they were still as active as ever. As long as they could get the energy they needed from consuming blood, they could go one without shutting down their selves. Mark wished that he had the same kind of ability. It would be helpful in many ways.

As for the little girls who were, as usual, with him, Mei picked them up after sending him dinner. Mei, Odelina, and especially, Aephelia, were worried about him pushing himself too much. Nevertheless, Mark genuinely enjoyed modifying these vehicles and putting pieces by pieces of it.

Since he was little and even before he became an Otaku, Mark liked the idea of creating stuff. As a child, he would always play with building bricks and assembled toys. When he learned to draw and started to watch anime and movies, he began designing weapons and equipment more than actual characters.

When he became older, like in high school and college, he regularly stared at plastic model displays whenever he encountered one. He always hoped that he could buy these fascinating things. Unfortunately, he was just a poor guy who could not even buy a lock for the door of his own house immediately.

Now, not only he had been able to build things in the same manner, he was even creating his own. It was a fascinating feeling that his trait as a Mutator could not mask.

That was why when Mei, Odelina, and Aephelia saw the interest and joy in his eyes as he worked on the vehicles, they just sighed and let him be.

Aside from battling against the infected or killing people that deserve it, they rarely saw Mark display such genuine expression. They did not want to destroy it.

"Master and his Majesty Freodelius are the same in this regard."

Aephelia remarked last night.

Although Mark heard that while he was working, he decided to ignore it. It was because there was no way to deny it at all.

Like Mark, although it was kind of different, Freed also had fascination over creating things. On his side, however, it was about the technology their gods left their ancestors.

When they left for the night, Mark continued to work with the [Blood Children]. Of course, Miracle was with him as one of them. There was no need to request lighting with the existence of Alaula, and they were able to work smoothly.

When morning came, Mark was quite satisfied already. He already finished modifying the Lorry, no it was now the [Exceed: Disintegrator Fortress].

Than its previous appearance, it looked more like a Mobile Construction Vehicle now from a particular video game franchise. The carrier at the back was more spacious and built with two layers. The lower smaller layer was to contain cargo. On the other hand, the upper larger layer was to be ridden by people, especially Aimee.

With compartments here and there along with the self-loading rock in front, ejecting weapons and gun mounts, Mark finished the initial design. He might upgrade this vehicle, but that would be in the future. For now, he was already confident about it.

Mark then looked at the few other vehicles parked and at the wagon containing the blood bags.

"Yep, I still have materials to use for a bit of modification on the others."

It seemed that he had no plans to rest until he finished this work.

Not long after he continued working, he felt a presence outside the wall he created. For the safety of the people around, the military guarded the wall in shifts guaranteeing that only those with a personal connection to him would be able to approach the area.

As Mark created an opening, the new addition to his group, Jaeya, entered. She was not alone. On her hands, she was carrying a box made of [Blood Metal].

"You're alone?"

Mark asked while closing the wall.

"Sis is already awake preparing breakfast with miss Odel. Iola and Gale are still asleep." She immediately replied. "Anyway, I want to ask what this is."

Jaeya's voice echoed in his mind and was obviously asking about the box.

"You should just ignore that."

"Ignore?" Jaeya seemed more agitated than usual. "Can't you hear it?"

Of course, Mark could hear it clearly. He just blatantly ignored the fact that the voice of a baby crying sounded from the box.

"Hah, Mei and Odel should already have told you about that, right?"

Mark said with a sigh. There was no way the two would not tell her. He already told the two about his goal of raising this infected baby. It was just he was busy to deal with it immediately.

In the first place, it would not be hard to know its diet. Mark and Mei saw how the other infected babies in the hospital ate their dead kind. Unfortunately, there was no way to get fresh animal meat right now.

Mark wanted to try and raise if differently from normal infected.

"They did tell me, but... Can I see it?"

Jaeya requested.

As Mark and the [Blood Children] were the only ones able to open this box, anyone would need his permission. In any case, there should be no problems with letting her see it.

Besides, the infected babies might be infected, but since they had a better instinct for survival, they were not overly hostile.

Mark opened the box for Jaeya to see. There, she saw the baby boy that did not look any different from a regular baby aside from its pale-colored eyes.

The baby lay inside the box naked. It was clean, and it was lying in soft cloth as Mark tasked Odelina to take care of it. Of course, as Odelina could only open and close the box with Mark's help, the cleaning yesterday was done here in the parking area. This made it impossible for Jaeya to see the infected baby beforehand.

The moment they opened the box, the baby stopped crying. It was looking at the people that opened the box. When the infected baby saw Mark, it shivered like a small animal. It seemed like their mother's order to stay clear of Mark, and his group was still fresh in its mind.

If it could crawl away and escape, it might have already done so. Unfortunately, it was cornered inside a small box and can only freeze in fear.

Mark was not new to this behavior of this infected baby. Actually, Mark started to question whether this was really an infected or they were just another new race of creatures born from the infected. With the existence of the [Blood Children], it was not impossible to happen. In fact, the way it behaved contradicting the behavior of the infected so far with the exception of a few intelligent ones. Among them were the [King Type] and [Queen Types].

"Can I hold it?"

Jaeya asked.

Mark looked at her in confusion as normal people would surely feel repulsive after knowing that the baby was an infected one. Thinking about it, Jaeya was not normal either. Furthermore, the infected baby was not really strong and it did not have teeth or sharp nails to injure someone. It should be fine if she just wanted to hold it.

Still, Mark wondered why Jaeye seemed to have some fascination with infants to the point of wanting to hold an infected baby.

Seeing her hold the baby like normal, Mark knew that she had some experience in it. Probably with Abbygale.

While being carried, the baby made no suspicious movement. Rather, it ignored Jaeya, who was carrying it and continued to stare at Mark warily.

As he could not stay idle at all, Mark decided to look around the other vehicles to see what modifications he could do with the remaining blood bags he had.

While he was checking behind the Jeep of Nikky's group, he heard a hum in his mind that he decided to ignore. Then, Miracle started tugging on his pants.

"Papa, what is Aunt Jaeya doing?"

She innocently asked.

When Mark looked, his eyes turned wide. He immediately dashed towards Jaeya and pulled the infected baby off her causing it to cry fearfully. White liquid splashed around as the dumbfounded Jaeya looked at Mark with her right chest bare.

"Wha-"

"What are you doing?!"

Mark yelled making Jaeya swallow what she was about to say.

Looking at the furious Mark, Jaeya covered her dripping chest with a teary eye.

"I..."

"I what?"

"I just thought he is hungry... So..."

"Hungry? Do you know that you can get infected with what you did?!"

Mark was absolutely furious. He would not that worried about Jaeya if she was nothing but a stranger capable of [Telephaty]. However, she was Abbygale's aunt and possibly the little girl's only relative left. The little girl might look calm about it but her mood had been lighter since yesterday after she met Jaeya. Mark did not want that to disappear because her aunt did a foolish thing.

"Infected?" Jaeya was stunned. "Don't the infected needed to bite to infected someone? That baby didn't have teeth..."

"The infected turn people by their saliva! Not their bite!"

Jaeye froze. She was completely stunned.

"I... I... I don't know..."

Tears finally flowed from her eyes. First from Mark's anger, next from the fear of what she had done.

Seeing that, Mark's anger subsided a bit, furthermore, his trait erased the rest. Calming down, Mark could not blame her.

She already told her story to them and she was even complaining about how her chest was aching yesterday. From the start of the apocalypse, she was confined in the Dark Greed's collection without knowing anything about the infected.

The thing she had done this time was probably because of the lingering emotions she had from her depression and about losing her son. Unfortunately, Mark could not fell her exact emotions because of how chaotic her mind fluctuation was. If he knew, he would not have agreed to her request.

Nevertheless, even if it could not infect, who in the right mind would try to breastfeed a baby born from an infected? This showed how Jaeya's head was not working properly.

Mark returned the crying infected baby inside the box and locked it.

"Ah, f-."

Mark wanted to curse even if he disliked doing so.

"Jaeya, just stay here. We need to observe whether you are going to turn or not. Got it?"

Hearing his words, Jaeya nodded.

If she became a Mutator, it would be good. Even if she became a failed one, Mark could handle it immediately. The worst-case was if she turned into a normal infected, or worse, into a mutated one.

The moment that happened, they would only be able to lament her fate.

Even if Mark was here, there was no assurance that she would become the same as Janette and Patricia. And even if she did, the previous Jaeya would surely cease to exist.

In any case, Mark had to try something once symptoms of her turning happened.

Because of what happened, Mark postponed the modification of the other vehicles. He stayed by Jaeya's side who was staying silent.

Soon, Mei and the others arrived to bring breakfast. As they heard about what Jaeya did, they were worried about both her mental and physical state.

Especially Abbygale. If not for her Mutator trait severely affecting her display of emotions, she would have cried already. She even sat beside her aunt holding her hand.

***

The noontime arrived.

However, none of anything they had expected happened to Jaeya.