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393 Through Taytay Rizal, Encounter at the Alternative Route

 Day 67 - 12:22 PM - Highway 2000, San Juan, Taytay, Rizal

Passing over Barkadahan Bridge that goes over Manggahan Floodway, they gained a bit of breathing time until they enter the busiest parts of Taytay, Rizal.

Even though they already drove past one of the longest and busiest bridges in the area, everyone was not content with their current pace. They were already behind schedule when leaving the first resting point. After passing over the Pasig River, their movement had been too slow.

As they move further and further away from Metro Manila, they encountered more varieties of infected that caused them to slow down. After all, going head-on against infected with unknown capabilities was the worst thing an individual could do. Regular people might copy game characters, tackling unknown enemies without much consideration. The military, however, was conscious of that fact.

They would preferably not rely on luck where not only their lives but also those of who they protect would be in jeopardy.

And thus, the soldiers pretty much try to deal with the new kinds of infected first before they got close.

They were precisely right with this. Some of the infected could release toxic liquid or explode upon death. Letting them come closer without knowing their capabilities was the same as committing suicide.

Although everyone was dissatisfied with the current pace, it was to ensure their safety. Because of that, no one would complain.

Mark, who returned from the lake earlier, was also enjoying the current pace. He happily turned the camera he pinned on his collar on and was even taking pictures as he fought. The military gave him enough data for most of the kinds of infected they found around Bay City Settlement. Nevertheless, finding out things on his own was more enjoyable.

The feeling was pretty much the same as playing a new game without following any walkthrough. The player needed to discover everything inside the game on his own.

Mark knew that things of this caliber were different from video games. It was an issue of life and death. Nevertheless, his trait as a Mutator erased the feeling of fear inside him. That enabled him to enjoy these things, albeit the very same circumstance he had as a Mutator would remove this enjoyment soon enough.

Leaving the vicinity of Barkadahan Bridge, they entered another development area. The stablishments around were all aimed for industrial use. Many were factories, while some were large scale retail stores. However, like the others, these areas would never be finished.

Furthermore, the construction materials and other things left around the unfinished establishments caused more kinds of infected to sprout.

The infected in this area was lesser compared to the previous areas. However, the ratio of mutated infected over the normal ones was higher.

One of the infected that stood on their way was quite slow on its foot but hard to kill with usual means. It was because its large body was covered with thick concrete. The infected was also a heavy one that even the [Exceed: Disintegrator Fortress] was rattled after ramming it to the side.

The concrete covered infected was still alive despite that, however. Still, it was funny to see how it struggled to get up because of its heavy body.

Mark got down from Chaflar to look at the infected with interest. While it struggled to get up, Mark broke parts of its concrete armor as if trying to ascertain something. Soon, he just shook his head. After taking a few pictures, he made Chaflar breathe fire on its head killing it almost immediately.

"Big Bro, what are you trying to do?"

Jaeya's voice sounded on Mark's head as he headed back to join the group.

As she had already seen Mark bring back a few things he was interested in, she was curious about what he was up to this time.

"Nothing much. I just tried to see if we can exploit that one."

Mark replied in his mind.

"Exploit?"

Jaeya was confused. Everyone was just going nuts wanting to kill or run away from the infected. Mark, however, was the complete opposite. Not only that he had no fear facing them, he even wanted to exploit these carnivorous creatures.

"Yeah," Mark replied. "I just tried to see if it can regenerate its concrete armor. If it could, then we can bring it at the base, feed it and make it produce concrete, at least, cement for us."

Hearing that, Jaeya understood.

Since her knowledge about the infected seemed lacking, Odelina and Karlene took the opportunity to teach her. From the two, she learned about [Armor Type] infected and the ability of some of them to regenerate their armor once damaged. By the looks of it, that concrete armored infected could not.

Still, Mark's ability to think of using the infected as a resource amazed her quite a bit.

***

Midway Highway 2000, their vehicles came to a stop once more. Sure enough, the road was blocked. Unlike the circumstance back in Metro Manila Skyway, however, this one looked normal.

The cause of the blockade was heavy traffic after two dump trucks crashed at each other. One of the two heavy-duty dump trucks was overturned and lay in the middle of the road on its side. Furthermore, it seemed that the fuel tanker of parked at the gas station was involved in the accident and exploded. Most of the vehicles along with a few structures around the place were scorched beyond recognition.

Among the wreckage, there were also mutated infected with distorted and charred looking bodies.

Mark instructed Chaflar to burn the infected. Sure enough, the infected were ignited but did not die. They continued to shamble towards the vehicles despite their bodies covered in flames.

"At least, these ones were normal mutated infected."

Mark thought as he beheaded the scorched infected. It made him remember the infected affected by Gar'Vlam's flames that had their bodies burning despite looking like normal infected.

"Sir, which alternative route are we going to take?"

1st Lieutenant Baller asked.

"Okay, wait a bit."

Mark replied and sprouted his wings.

He then flew up to survey the area. It was more reliable to do this than just consulting his outdated maps. In fact, the map would only show two short alternative routs around this part. However, one of those two was a set of roads inside a planned private housing subdivision. Although it had an extension dirt road before, it could be different now.

And he was correct.

From the sky, he saw that the north route was already closed with the subdivision's walls. The only way they could go now without backtracking was the southeast route on the right turn street they had just passed by.

That route would lead them either to an alternative route or back in this road. However, the heavy traffic caused by the accident spanned all the way across the highway. They could not use the initial route they planned.

While looking towards the new route, Mark noticed something.

***

Backtracking for about ten meters, they entered the branching street going southeast.

This road was more devoid of establishments. There were mostly vacant lots covered with grass and trees compared to the roadside of the highway that was mostly filled with large establishments.

The only problem was that the road was smaller. They had to stretch out the convoy into two lanes most of the way while also moving at a single lane at some points.

They had to move about more than a hundred and fifty meters back before going in the right direction once more. It was because of how the blocks in the area were distributed.

Soon, they entered a wider road. It was not the main one like the highway, but it was also quite populated with vehicles. The reason being the municipal hall and a few government offices in Taytay, Rizal were located on this road.

Furthermore, there were quite a number of infected wandering in the area because of a certain reason.

And...

As they passed by the Municipal Hall surrounded by a pretty much large number of infected...

They heard shouting.

"Help! Help!"

There was not only one voice, but there was also quite a number.

In Mark's detection, there were twenty-three of them.

This was what Mark noticed as he surveyed the route in the sky. There were many banners hanged around the Municipal Hall which were written with either, "Help!", "SOS", or "Survivors Here!".

With those banners, Mark could only scratch his head. Even though the goal of the banners was to seek help and rescue, it could also attract people with ill motives. They were probably lucky that no one would try to antagonize the large number of guards outside the municipal hall.

Mark wished they were enemies. He did not want to add more baggage and he knew that the soldiers would not be able to resist the urge to help them.

There was also the other request from the general that he told Mark. Mark's group alone was enough to escort Chervil and his sister and her children. While these soldiers here were to assist them, one of their directives was to rescue survivors along the way if they encountered them and if it was possible.

In this case, it really was possible.

These survivors were crafty enough to survive until now. They even had a firetruck at the side of the city hall with its ladders locked up towards the rooftop. There was a gap between the end of the ladder to ensure that even if an infected learned to climb up, it would not reach the roof. As for the people traversing that ladder, they only needed to use something like a bridge which for, sure enough, they had already prepared.

If these survivors managed to survive this far, it might be because even with the banners, they did not flag just everyone that possibly passed by.

On Mark's detection, he could tell that these survivors saw the military vehicles and that was the reason they frantically called out.

Unexpectedly, in this small group of survivors, Mark detected four Mutators. With the exception of Mark's group, this was quite unusual. In settlements, it was common to have several Mutators in a group because there was a large number of people. Still, the ratio of normal people overwhelmed the number of Evolvers and Mutators combined by several times.

Having four Mutators in a group of twenty people was already a high number. Comparing it to Edward's group before, Edward's group only had a single Evolver. On the other hand, Gifre's group had quite a number of Mutators. However, the members of their Dark Greed numbered about hundreds.

"Sir."

1st Lieutenant Baller's voice echoed on the radio.

Mark already knew what he wanted to ask. If possible, Mark did not want to agree. However, it was a request from the General who took good care of Mei and the others.

"I know, just do what you needed to do. Just remember that we have no duty of protecting them. Their protection up to you and your men."

Mark said with a sigh.

"Thank you, Sir."

1st Lieutenant Baller replied filled with gratitude for Mark granting permission.

Thus, the military moved to secure the survivors along with finding a vehicle that could be used to transport them.

On the other hand, Mark told Aephelia so send Gifre to assist the soldiers. Although he did not want to personally assist with the rescue, he did not want to have a record of anyone dying in a mission entrusted to him. Of course, the survivors that had no relation to him was another issue. He could not care much about them. There was no benefit for him to help them too.

They had Mutators that most people would want to recruit. However, no one probably knew about the reigning traits Mutator had after they became one. That was the main thing Mark assessed to recruit a Mutator. It was because, no matter how good or nice a Mutator was, their reigning traits could turn them upside down.

As for these Mutators, Mark only found one that he could possibly recruit. However, it would not be suitable to recruit that person if he belonged to the group of the other three.

While the rescue was ongoing, Mark was not just idling around. He was monitoring a certain direction opposite the Municipal hall using his detection.

After all, the people in the municipal hall were not the only survivors in this place.