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391 The Glow at the Lake, The Nighttime Hunting Ground

 Day 66- 6:22 PM - Circumferential Road 6, Napindan, Taguig, Metro Manila

It was the first night of their journey. Unlike how it was in Bay City Settlement, everything in the surroundings looked-like something to be feared.

Without living people, there was no electricity. There were no lights in the streets, no lights in the houses nearby, and no lights in everything they landed their sights on. If not for the moon that was faintly illuminating the surroundings, the pitch-black darkness of the night might have enveloped everything.

For the night, they chose a supposed vehicle trade building, as it turned out, this detail in the map was already outdated.

Yes, the vehicle trade business existed. Still, most of the area around turned out to be several commercial buildings.

Fortunately, this made it easier to secure the place.

There were three main buildings, two of which were two long single floor buildings built to accommodate two rows of business establishments. The two buildings faced each other with a wide roofed area in between to serve the customers.

Another good thing was that the roofs of the two buildings were mostly flat, which made it easier to traverse while giving the guards on duty a better viewpoint.

There was a wall securing the whole place, but it was not that secure. The walls might be sturdy but were built temporarily. Some parts had already fallen, probably because of the infected. Still, it became uncomplicated with existing walls to work on, especially when Mark and the [Blood Children] were the ones working on it.

Of course, it was while ignoring the green-haired girl tagging along while watching the [Blood Children] with glittering eyes. Still, Mark did not let anyone see that the [Blood Children] were creating [Blood Metal], not even Emika. To everyone, it only looked like they were tying up the temporary walls with something like a metal cable.

Scouring the place, they found it strange that the area was entirely untouched even though there were very few infected around. All in all, they found about twenty infected inside, either wandering the place or trapped inside the stores. Only three of them were mutated ones and the most common kind.

Then, inside one of the stores, they found a sad scene. Three decaying corpses were inside, by the looks of it, none of them were infected. Using their clothes, it should have been three women who managed that store. They all died while holding the hands of each other. With the presence of a box of rat poison and pellets of it scattered on the floor, it was not hard to imagine what happened.

Unfortunately, the soldiers would not be able to give these poor people a proper burial. The area was unfamiliar, and the dangers around should not be underestimated. In the end, they could only clean the corpses along with the killed infected. All the cleaning fell unto Logan.

Fortunately, Aephelia was used to seeing dead bodies and was able to command Logan with precise instructions. Unlike Amihan, who was still quivering at the sight of decaying corpses.

***

Night fell not too long after. Everyone had an early dinner and decided to sleep, leaving those in guard duty outside.

While the soldiers and their families took the business establishments to camp in, Mark's group took the third building that had three floors. Actually, it was just two since the third floor seemed to be still under construction when the outbreak started.

Since they still have a very early morning tomorrow, everyone decided to sleep early like the others. Of course, everyone aside from Mark.

Although he pretended to sleep, he was still awake. He opened his eyes once he was sure that everyone else already entered their dream world. There was no need for anyone to stand guard for them as Chaflar, Gifre, and Logan could alert them once danger came. Even Aimee, who stayed inside the [Exceed: Disintegrator Fortress], was sensitive to the infected and would be able to detect them if they came too close.

That was also the problem, aside from Chaflar, the three were only sensitive towards the infected. The three were supposed to be infected, that was why they were able to detect their kind. However, as the three were not the usual infected, they lacked something that normal infected had, the instinct for searching the living.

Chaflar, on the other hand, could detect enemies on certain conditions. The most prominent one was the smell of flesh and blood. This enormous lizard was a carnivore, after all.

Laelaps and Fein were also here to help with detecting enemies. A dog's nose was very good, while an insect's instinct for survival was high.

As for Mark, he could detect almost any living thing as long as they emit emotional fluctuations.

With all of them around, any form of danger would not be able to come close undetected.

However, it did not mean that they could lower their guards, especially when Mark could tell that there were a lot of things outside, waiting for night to fall.

The soldiers actually wanted to set up spotlights, which could help in detecting and defending the place. However, Mark stopped them. Not only that it would attract unwanted attention, but, it could also call forth danger.

Being careful not to wake up anyone, Mark stepped out of the building unto the unfinished third floor.

"Si-"

"Shhh..."

A few soldiers on the watch saw Mark and wanted to greet, but Mark shushed them.

Nevertheless, Mark knew why. Even 1st Lieutenant Baller was here.

Mark went down to where the soldiers were.

"How is it?"

Mark asked.

Almost everyone was looking at the direction of the lake while being careful not to make too much sound.

"Sir, we don't know what is happening. We wanted to call you out but you said not to since your pets will know if there is danger. Since they don't seem to be responding, we concluded that there is no danger yet."

The 1st Lieutenant reported.

"Good. I just came out since I noticed the disturbance, but you all should calm down. There's no danger yet."

Mark replied.

Currently, a glow could be seen at the lake in the distance. At the sea, a phenomenon like this was a normal, but rare, occurence due to algae. In this lake, however, there were no precedent events like this. For sure, the existence of Mutagen had something to do with it.

Mark could faintly feel what the cause was, however. Whatever that thing that was glowing under the lake, it was trying to draw insects towards it using the light it was emitting.

"All of you, stay here. I'll investigate. Just prepare for skirmish since we don't know what it is."

Mark instructed.

"Yes, Sir."

The soldiers saluted with a low voice.

Opening his wings, Mark flew towards the lake.

Around, the area, he could feel insects, mutated or not, were traveling towards the lake. It was not surprising since the wide vacant area behind the resting point was actually filled with ricefields. The rice crops were already destroyed though. However, it became the best nest for insects.

Reaching the lake, he saw that the light formed a large circle near the edge of the lake. Around the area were filled with water hyacinths. And... A rather large one was at the center of the circle of light.

The water hyacinth at the center was really large. The smallest of its leaves had about the size of a human torso with the largest ones with a span of a meter or more. There was also the cluster of flowers and its stalk which was about two meters high.

The source of the light was the large cluster of flowers.

While observing the giant plant from above, Mark saw a mutated giant cockroach trying to approach the cluster of large flowers. It flew low over the glowing water of the lake. Then... It was caught.

A thick pointed stick spurt out of the water piercing the body of the cockroach. As the cockroach died, Mark saw several insect-like arms grab it and dragged it underwater.

And that scene was not the first and last one. As more insects came towards the flower, more of them suffered the same fate. The sizes of the pointed sticks and insect arms were not the same either as some of them were smaller or larger than the rest.

"So, this is a night hunting ground."

Mark murmured.

It seemed that whatever these hunters underwater were used those flowers to lure their prey. Of course, he could be mistaken and those creatures underwater might actually be protecting the flower.

While Mark watched the unusual sight below, he suddenly felt danger. He swayed his body to the side. At the same time, a large burst of water happened below as a large thing flew out of the water. With a buzzing sound, the large silhouette passed where he was positioned before.

Since its prey managed to dodge, the assailant turned around in a curve and charged towards Mark once more.

However, as Mark already saw the attack coming, Mark prepared to strike it down. He dodged the next attack and then flew at the same speed beside it.

Finally, since he was flying at the same speed, he saw what this creature was.

Belostomatidae, commonly known as a Water Bug. At least, that was how Mark judged it. Mark could not find out its specific name though as it had already mutated far from its original appearance.

Not only that it was large, about the size of an adult human, but its legs also had sharp protrusions and there was a long pointed horn above its head.

The insect seemed to hate that its prey was flying beside it

and it attacked with its long pair of hind legs.

Of course, Mark dodged it and started to fly away while provoking the insect. Mark could not tell whether provoking it would have an effect as its intelligence was not existent. However, as it already saw Mark as prey, it still chased.

He wanted to lure it away. Although Water Bugs were not known as social insects, Mark could not gamble it. Many things could change with their mutation and the fact that these water bugs were hunting together could tell otherwise.

As they reached an area quite far from the hunting ground, Mark knocked it down. He sent a burst of black mist that immediately entered its head causing it to fall unconscious and fell to the ground. Since they were already going home, it would not be a bother to bring something like this alive. If Annica could tame this, it would be better. Mark could not do it since this thing had a low intelligence compared to Chaflar.

Mark returned to the resting point while surprising the soldiers. Who would not be if he brought back a large thing?

BUZZ!

Then, buzzing sounds could be heard from the lake.

Everyone keeping watch stiffened. Mark also frowned.

It seemed like the number of insects going towards the flower was not enough. The water bugs decided to hunt on land.

Mark immediately issued orders.

"Lieutenant, abandon the lookout and lock the buildings. We should be fine as long as those insects don't find us. Leave the guard duty to this time."

"Alright." 1st Lieutenant Baller nodded. "Men, you heard that. Go!"

Seeing them go, Mark stealthily woke up Aephalia.

Since Chaflar and Gifre could be easily seen from outside, they needed to move them between the buildings where there was a roof. In the least, unless the waterbugs flew down to chek, the two large beings would not be seen.

Mark just wished that nothing bad would happen tonight. In the worst case, he would lure these insects away.

'How about killing all of them...'

Mark thought at first, then, he shook his head.

He had better ideas as he etched this place in his mind.

Of course, he had something to do tomorrow though. Something that these insects would surely hate.