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387 NeoHumans, The Ongoing Theory

 Day 61 - 3:22 PM - Hospital Area, Military Laboratories, North District, Bay City Settlement, Pasay City, Metro Manila

Mark, wearing his mask, Mei, and Abbygale sat in the waiting area of the laboratory.

Because of what Jaeya did, Mark had to postpone the modification of the remaining vehicles. After noontime passed and nothing happened to Jaeya, Mark decided to bring Jaeya to the laboratory for checking. To be sure, he also brought the infected baby to the laboratory.

Because it was not easy to disclose the origin of the baby without causing a commotion, Mark had to lie. He told the doctor that met them personally about checking for possible Mutagen Infection on the two.

This was not the first time the people in the laboratory received an inquiry like this. The speed of people turning for each individual infected by the [Mutagen Unstable Strain] was fundamentally different. That was why the laboratory would handle such cases from time to time. Due to that, however, they already had a protocol to follow.

For the time record of a person turning, the longest the military experienced was twenty-two hours. That was why it would not be impossible that other instances could occur.

Nevertheless, having VIP treatment was superb. While people had to wait in queues in the lobby, the laboratory personnel immediately directed them inside.

Since things were urgent, they had not eaten launch yet. Unfortunately, it was forbidden to eat outside appointed areas in the laboratory. Mark tried to tell Mei to lead Abbygale out to eat first, but the little girl did not want to and patiently waited beside Mark. Despite her calm expression, Abbygale was worried. She did not even remember taking advantage of Iola and Miracle not being present to solo Mark's lap on her own.

Finally, the results they were waiting for arrived. Unexpectedly, the one delivering the result was no other than Nia instead of the doctor they spoke with before.

Seeing Mark looking at her with a strange look, Nia smiled.

"Sir must be wondering why I'm here. The staff reported to us about the circumstances and I led it personally. Hearing your requests are our utmost priority after all."

Nia spoke respectfully.

Not only her but Allen would behave the same way when around Mark. The first reason was Mark being able to strip away what they had now with a wrong move, and another was because while they look at Mark, they felt lower and guilty for a reason they could not fathom.

Hearing her reason to be here, Mark nodded.

"What about the result?"

Mark asked. He could feel that even Abbygale and Mei were getting anxious.

To Abbygale, she was her last relative, while to Mei, she was like a sister. Not only because she was Abbygale's Aunt, but Jaeya did not treat her any differently. Having the thought of having a sister was new to her and was quite enjoying it. The problem, however, was that the role of the two was reversed with Mei behaving as the older sister despite being younger.

The short pause from Nia seemed too long.

"There is no need to worry about the mother and the baby, they are both normal."

Half-relieved and half-confused. That was what Mark and Mei felt. Of course, the little girl was all relieved.

"Is something wrong?"

Nia noticed the odd atmosphere.

"Can you bring us to them?"

Mark asked.

"Of course, there is no problem. Please follow me."

As such, Nia led the way.

***

They were led unto the high-security rooms of the hospital area. It was the area reserved for these kinds of tests. Not only several soldiers were stationed in the area, but the rooms were built to last if the patient being checked suddenly turned or mutated.

As Nia led them, they passed by the bulletproof window of the room they were about to enter. There was Jaeya inside and they saw her immediately.

Mark hung his head low while rubbing his temple. This woman was a total headache.

On the hospital bed, Jaeya lay sideways... Happily breastfeeding the supposed "infected" baby.

Mei sighed and even the little girl understood the predicament her Papa and Mama were having.

Jaeya was concentrated on breastfeeding the baby that she did not even notice that she was being watched.

Nia was waiting for Mark to open the door and enter first. As she was not related to the patient, it would be better if she entered last. Nevertheless, she could not understand why the three people in front of her were behaving oddly.

"What tests did you perform?"

Turning to Nia, Mark asked.

"The standard tests. Body temperature, pulse and heartbeat checking, the most important were urine and saliva checking."

The tests were a good set for checking possibly infected people. Body temperature and heartbeat alone could tell if a person had been infected since they would experience a very high fever and their heart would start to palpitate. Furthermore, an infected person's urine and feces did not only reek several times stronger but would also contain blood as their insides transformed.

As for the saliva, it was the most important indicator. An person infected, even before turning, would already produce an [Unstable Strain] of Mutagen. It meant that if a person were infected, he could immediately infect others without turning into a full-blown infected.

And, there was the problem Mark and Mei had in mind.

Despite these tests, they deemed the baby to be "normal".

"Are you really sure that the baby is normal?"

Mark asked which made Nia even more confused.

"Is there really something wrong, Sir? I would not understand if you don't tell me."

Nia respectfully asked.

Leaving things like this, they would not get anywhere.

"Can you keep a secret? Something that you won't tell that crazy professor of yours?"

Mark sighed. He decided to tell the circumstances.

"Yes, you can count on me."

Nia nodded with a stern expression. Probably, other than the professor, she would only show such expression around Mark.

Mark then took out a phone and opened the gallery. There, he showed the grotesque pictures and videos of what they had encountered inside the nursery ward in Perpetual Help Medical Center.

"This is?"

Nia asked seeing the [Breeder Type] infected.

"The mother of that baby there." Mark pointed at Jaeya and the baby inside the room. "You can see that umbilical cords on that infected? One of those is connected to that baby before I took it."

"It seems like you found a rather unique infected there."

Nia looked at the pictures with interest. She would also change expressions as she saw the pitiful looking babies born of the [Breeder Type].

"You said that the baby is normal."

Mark said the pressing matter.

"I see."

Nia finally realized why they were behaving oddly.

"Can you follow me for a bit, it is not far from here."

"It's fine. But where are we going?"

"Sir will know later."

Nia said as she led the way.

Soon, they reached the maximum-security area of the laboratory. The entrance was being guarded by several heavily armed soldiers.

Nia showed her ID and they were given entry.

She then stopped in front of a glass window of a secured room.

Inside, there was a healthy baby sleeping.

Seeing that, Mark and Mei were sure.

"Is that what we think it is?"

Mark asked.

"Yes. An infant born of the infected." Nia said to confirm their thoughts. "The mother of this one might not be as grotesque looking as the one you showed me but I believe, they were in the same circumstances."

Nia then turned to the baby inside the room.

"And as I could say, we consider this baby as "normal"."

Hearing that, it piqued Mark's interest.

"So, you are saying that an infected mother could give birth to a normal human baby?"

"Yes." Nia nodded. "The circumstance is very rare and as we researched, there could only be a single instance this could happen."

Nia then narrated the information Mark needed to know.

***

It started when the military was still building the walls of the settlement. Way back when the outbreak began.

The baby in front of them currently was born from pregnant a woman they military found and rescued. However, she was already infected the moment they found her. For the sake of research, they took the woman in as the researchers wanted to study what would happen inside the baby inside the mother's womb.

That pregnant woman turned into a mutated infected.

While she was turning, however, she suddenly gave birth to a baby girl. The soldiers thought that it was already late as they saw the umbilical cord attached to the baby was already odd-looking and the placenta was still attached to the mother's womb. Despite that, they took their chances, a soldier cut off the umbilical cord and brought back the baby.

Under testing, they found it "normal". However, not only the baby girl open its eyes too early but also learned to crawl in about a week. Furthermore, aside from milk, they preferred a soft meat diet despite not having teeth yet.

The most important thing, they did not carry any [Unstable Strain] in their saliva or other parts of their bodies.

Other tests were still ongoing about how different the baby girl was compared to a normal human infant.

***

"We tried to recreate such scenarios with infected pregnant women brought in but all of it failed."

Nia continued.

"We also tried fertilizing ovum from infected women. It was rarely fertilized and the growth of the fetus was rather fast. However, what we ended up with were unsightly infected critters like the babies in the pictures you showed me earlier."

"So, you are saying that the baby I took might be the true baby inside the mother's womb which she gave birth to while mutating?"

Mark asked.

"Yes, Sir. Exactly as you said. Although most of it is still in theory, that could only be the answer we can find right now."

"Shouldn't it mutate or turn into an infected since it is connected to the mother for a long time?"

Mark said while contemplating.

"I can't answer that precisely." Nia shook her head. "However, I have a theory. The Z-type A, the ones you call Biters. Aside from their instinctual urge to bite to infect people and their increased stamina and strength, all other functions of their bodies are the same. It could have been the same for the mother's umbilical cord which only transferred nutrients to the baby that is already outside its womb."

"It's just a theory, right?"

Mark asked.

"Yes. Unfortunately."

"I see..." Mark scratched his head. "I don't know if I lucked out on this one or not. I wanted an infected baby and see how it will evolve."

"Why Sir? I guess, it is lucky for you. We only have one despite our hundreds of attempts. Sir, on the other hand, picked that baby boy out of all the infected babies you saw."

It was not really luck. Mark only picked the most decent looking among the babies. Who would have thought that real infected babies had no way of properly developing as a fetus? No wonder the others looked unsightly.

With those thoughts in mind, Mark's expression grew stern.

"So, a new race of humans possibly appeared."

He voiced out.

"Yes. That was what we also hypothesized. We still don't have a proper name for them, but Professor calls them [Neo Human]."

Nia nodded with a serious expression.

Finally, they had some answers though there were still obscure things they needed to confirm.

The most important thing that Jaeya would not be infected because of her broken head. Not only that, since the baby was not really an infected one, but Mark could also appoint Jaeya to take care of it. Her loneliness would be addressed although it was not her child. It also seemed like she had taken a liking to it.

Hearing the good news, Jaeya was totally delighted. She immediately jumped up from her bed forcing the baby off her chest which she immediately regretted.

Mark could only sigh when Jaeya started talking to the baby and even approached him showing how the baby suckled on her chest. She did not even realize how afraid the baby was while she approached Mark.