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392 Going Back to the Lake, The Start of the Second Day of their Journey

 Day 67 - 7:49 AM - Sampaguita Street, San Juan, Taytay, Rizal

The sun had long risen from the east, and the convoy Mark left the resting point quite late.

A journey outside the settlement was also a race against time. Because of that, the original schedule was to start preparing before dawn and leave at sunrise. Unfortunately, the waterbugs continued on seeking food until almost an hour after sunrise.

Due to the threat of waterbugs, their schedule got delayed.

However, also due to the waterbugs hunting for food, they managed to have a night mostly free of threat. As Mark had thought, the waterbugs only attacked prey on sight while also avoiding possible predators. Some managed to accidentally see Chaflar and Gifre under the roof covered area in front of the business establishments, but none attacked them.

Perhaps, due to their large size and both were something that supposed to prey with insects, they found the two giants as a threat.

While everyone hid inside out of sight of the waterbugs, the waterbugs started to target the infected that roamed the area. They started to loiter the area after Mark and his crew arrived. Possibly because of either the noise or the presence of living beings.

Unfortunately for the infected, except for a few large-bodied and [Armor Type] Mutated Infected, the others became prey to the waterbugs. Since the waterbugs were also living beings, the remaining infected also tried to go after them. It ensued a battle between the two species leaving Mark's group in peace for the night.

Everyone just wished that they returned to the lake earlier though.

After they secured that there were no waterbugs left flying and roaming around, the soldiers hurriedly prepared and they all left as soon as possible.

The waterbugs might have become nocturnal after their mutation. Nevertheless, they could not take chances. The number of waterbugs they saw was quite large and many of them were the size of an adult human. Most of the infected that roamed into the area did not even stand a chance, not to mention normal humans.

They had to leave the place as soon as possible. 1st Lieutenant Baller also took note of their discoveries and once they reached the Infanta Settlement, they would report the information and relay it back to Bay City Settlement.

Right now, they already crossed the bridge while warily eyeing the lake and the river. They were still in the vicinity of the protected area around the lake and they could not let their guards down.

It was a lucky circumstance that these Mutated Bugs had no ability to seek prey outside of their eyesight. A confrontation between them and the waterbugs in the middle of the night could have been dangerous. Mark and his group might be able to handle it, but it would be hard to protect everyone against a large number of these fast-flying insects.

Fortunately, their fears were unwarranted, as they followed the main road and turned at the next curve, they started to drive away from the lake safely.

Of course, it did not mean that the continuation of the journey would be smooth-sailing. It was because as they drove away from the lake, they entered the heavily populated areas once more. If one was to look at the map, this place looked like a set of numerous rectangular grids with uneven proportions. In each block, there were about twenty or more houses.

And there were a few hundred blocks around the main road.

In fact, the moment they entered the subdivision, they were already blocked by quite a number of infected. Furthermore, instead of decreasing, their numbers were increasing as more infected were drawn by the sounds of the vehicles and the gunshots.

If they stayed in a place for too long, the road would surely turn into a sea of infected that would block their advance.

Thus, along with the military, Mark utilized everyone to clear up the infected.

While Mark instructed Chaflar as the dragon run around the place while spewing fire on the infected, he could not help but take out his phone and snap a few photos. It was because there were quite a number of infected that he had not seen before and was also not included in the data given to him by the military.

Perhaps, these infected could be said as endemic to this place.

There were quite a number of infected with strange moss covering their bodies. Probably because of the dirty creeks around the area caused them to mutate and become hosts to the moss. It was quite annoying how these infected smelled horrible. The smell even permeated after Chaflar burned their bodies to ashes.

Aside from those, there was also a lot of thin-bodied infected that moved around on all fours. They rather move fast and had good instincts and reflexes. They were quite a pain to deal with as they try to avoid danger by jumping over abandoned vehicles and low structures before going into hiding.

Their behavior made Mark think that the infected started to develop their own hunting methods by instinct. If this really was the case, things would become harder and harder for survivors in the future.

***

Day 67 - 9:15 AM - Ejercito Avenue, San Juan, Taytay, Rizal

"Here should be fine I think."

Mark said as he looked around.

They already left the area with a large number of houses. There were still some areas with similar states further away. However, the number of houses and possible infected residents would be lower. Right now, they entered an area where the structures on the streetside were quite sparse.

It was because, at the east of the road, it was a water reservoir, while on the west side, it was an industrial area that was still under development. Of course, its development would not be finished, not in the near future. Or probably, it would never be.

Mark then took out a radio. There was no need for a radio for the members of his group right now, but they needed one to communicate with the soldiers. He could not just disclose Jaeya's ability to them. It was the same for Edward's crew who also had radios as they were just new people in his group.

Before talking to the radio, Mark spoke in his mind first.

"Jaeya, can you hear me?"

"Yes, loud and clear."

Jaeya immediately replied.

"I need to leave for a while. Inform everyone that I told you to connect before. As for the soldiers, I'll inform them, myself. While I'm away, just continue on the road, I will catch up. I will also leave Chaflar just in case."

"Where are you going?"

"I can't tell for now. Just inform everyone so they won't panic."

"Okay~! I'll inform them."

Jaeya agreed. Her mood seemed to be good. Surely, she was watching her adopted son as he slept.

As for the baby's name, Jaeya gave him the name Theodore. Sadly enough, it was the same name her unborn son was supposed to have.

Following that, Mark informed the soldiers and instructed Chaflar to carefully guard everyone like before.

Finishing that, he sprouted his wings from his back and flapped it hard. With a blur, he flew away.

He flew towards the southwest direction. Back from where they came from this morning.

Along the way, Mark encountered a few infected birds. The infected birds tried to catch up to him, but, unless they were special type flying infected, they would have no way of catching up to him.

It did not take long and Mark was already flying above the lake. Unlike when traveling on the ground, traveling in the air was faster. In the ground, they needed to follow the roads while avoiding obstacles. While in the air, he could just fly over everything.

Real-life might be a crappy game. At least, it was open-world. Furthermore, the current update called apocalypse made it better.

As stealthy as possible, Mark lowered himself towards the lake. More precisely, towards the large water hyacinth in the waters of Laguna Lake.

While he lowered his altitude, he was checking for any mental fluctuations underwater. It was faint but he managed to detect the waterbugs. There was really a lot. Most of them probably did not try to leave the waters of the lake as their bodies were smaller than the others.

Furthermore, Mark confirmed. These mutated waterbugs were nocturnal. Probably, they did not like the light from the sun. It was because while the majority of them were asleep deep under the lake, probably, under the mud, some of them were awake. Nevertheless, they did not try to swim too close to the surface.

Maybe, they could tolerate the morning sun as it was not too bright and hot. However, as the sun rose in the sky, they could not tolerate it anymore.

This was a great opportunity.

Approaching the gigantic water hyacinth, Mark noticed that the flowers were not emitting light anymore. More importantly, the flowers seemed to be facing the sun, unlike last night when most of the flowers were drooped down while emitting light.

Mark started to wonder why but shook his head. He was not here to mull over those things. What he came back here for was to look for something.

Flying around the cluster of flowers, he started to rummage around. It did not take long and he found it. Stuck in the stem of the leaves, he found two fist-sized seeds.

As far as Mark knew, water hyacinth flowers only last a day. Even if it mutated, there was a chance that even if the blooming time was lengthened, it would not be too long. In fact, there was not only one flower stalk but three. However, the other two already had no flowers on it.

If that was the case, there could be seeds around. Mark was not sure as it was quite rare to find and water hyacinths were commonly grown with plantlets. In any case, he managed to find two. It should already be fine and try to grow it. For sure, it might not work since there was only one of this giant water hyacinth but he could still try.

Storing the seeds, he also plucked three young flowers at the top of the stalk. He could use some souvenirs. One of these would be given to Chervil for study. If this plant turned out to be something helpful, it would be the best scenario. In the future, he could go back and pluck some more or search for seeds too.

When Mark plucked the flowers, he felt some disturbance underwater. It seemed that the mutated waterbugs really valued this flower and managed to sense that its flowers were being taken. He then hurriedly removed a small part of a leaf connected to the root before leaving. He could also try planting this part.

Luckily for these insects, Mark was not planning on fighting. If Annica really managed to tame the one he caught, he would take back more of these guys to create an army to mobilize on freshwater areas. So, Mark would not harm them right now.

The disturbed waterbugs dug themselves out of the mud they slept and surfaced while enduring the sun. Their cries could be heard when they saw that the water hyacinth was missing some flowers and had a broken leaf and root. Some of them even flew around which caused their bodies to dry up too much due to the sun.

Unfortunately, the poor insects never found the culprit and entered the lake waters once more to soak their dried bodies.

As for the culprit, he already scurried away while using his wings and [Shadow Mist Movement] at the same time. With the very fast speed of his flight, he managed to catch up with the convoy very quickly. He landed on Chaflar's back and joined the fray as he arrived while the convoy was in the middle of another battle.

He would never know that for the next few nights, the waterbugs he stole the seeds, flowers, and root from were angrily hunting everything that came near their nest.