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407 The Last Night of their Journey, A Request by the Misunderstood Woman

 Day 69 - 5:48 PM - Marikina-Infanta Highway, San Jose, Antipolo, Rizal

As they reached the highway, everyone was in glee. Reaching the outskirts of the cities made everyone feel at ease. It was because of the number of infected within the cities being very large. After leaving the cities and entering the rural areas towards Eastern Luzon, they thought that it would be easier already.

However, that was the mindset cultivated by survivors that stayed in the middle of heavily infested cities. The real story was way too far from that.

In fact, the danger did not lessen at all.

For a lot of instances, it might have been even more dangerous.

At these parts, the infected might be lower in number. What made it worse was that these infected were a lot stronger than the ones around cities. It was because they managed to survive an environment filled with mutated predators.

Also, for the most part, Marikina-Infanta Highway was surrounded by forests and mountains. Mutated animals were more prominent in these areas than the infected.

Their cheers did not last long after the convoy was blocked by a two-meter dog in the middle of the highway. If not for the existence of Mark's group, that dog was enough to wipe out a large part of the convoy.

The dog was a feral one as Mark assessed. Thus, there was no problem with killing it immediately. This dog that wanted to prey on humans turned into meat to keep instead. People might have problems eating meat from these kinds of animals, but it was different after the apocalypse started. Not only that the survivors would be picky about fresh meat for dinner, but the meat of mutated animals was also far more nutritious and had positive effects on Evolvers and Mutators.

Thus, the dinner was decided that way.

It was a blessing for everyone but the group of survivors from the Municipal Hall of Taytay though. Every time they see meat or even the infected, the memory of what they saw this morning would flash in their minds.

Although they reached the highway, they did not have enough time to traverse it. As such, they went off from the initial direction of the highway's curve.

About six hundred meters away from the highway, the place where they would spend the night was located. It was a place, Mark, Edzel, and Karlene saw when they were on the way to Bay City.

What made this place stand out from the sky was because it was a mansion with a wide lot. The lot was surrounded by almost three-meter walls making it a secure place in a rural area like this.

"This place really gives you a vibe that it's owned by a politician don't you think?"

Karlene said as they went out of their vehicles.

Entering was not a problem for them as it was easy for many Mutators, or even Evolvers, to jump over the walls and destroy the lock inside.

Karlene could not be blamed for her assumption as the design of the place was basically the same as how it was in movies.

After entering through the gates, there was a wide road to traverse before arriving at the actual mansion. Furthermore, the tall walls surrounding the place made everyone think that whoever lived here prioritized their security.

The landscaping beside the road and the gardens were also elegant looking. Well, if the plants were not overgrown. Without anyone tending the place for two months, the landscaping had turned ragged and messy.

Securing the area, they found that there was no danger inside the premises of the mansion.

Still, they found traces of dried blood, broken windows, and the back door of the mansion was destroyed. Looking at the markings on some of the furniture covered with dried blood, it seemed that the cause of this was not infected but a mutated animal.

The poor inhabitants of this mansion managed to escape the initial outbreak but were wiped out by mutated animals instead. That was what the clues left in the house, made everyone assume.

After the mansion was searched thoroughly, everyone made their preparations for the night.

Half of the night passed by without problems. The worst that happened was Prince's wailing as he gained consciousness. Furthermore, everyone could tell that he was already a lost cause.

In the middle of the night, Mark visited Prince once more. It was to check on his condition. Of course, it was not in a good way.

While for the most part, Mark did this to punish this bastard, it was not the entire reason he let him live. In fact, Mark wanted to end this insect's life already.

However, he still had some purpose.

There were a lot of things about Mutators that were still undiscovered. Although Mark already uncovered a few things, there was still a lot to be researched. One of those was that what would happen if a Mutator's reigning trait could not fulfill its conditions anymore?

To other Mutators, it was hard to experiment on this. Finding ways to contradict and stop their traits would be hard.

On Prince, however, it was very easy to do. His reigning trait was his narcissism and it fueled his pervertedness and greed to conquer women using his handsome looks. By destroying his face and manhood, there was no way for him to be narcissistic about his looks anymore.

What would happen then?

From what Mark observed, from the sudden fainting and his wails after waking up, there was one severe effect on Prince.

He was losing his sanity, literally.

His mental health was deteriorating at a fast rate. In another two or three days, Mark estimated that this pervert would totally lose his mind and become insane.

What a suitable ending for this person.

"You are here aren't you?"

Mark suddenly heard a voice. This made him quite surprised.

Since he just stopped by to take a peek, he only concealed himself with [Optical Camouflage] and did not bother to make everyone sleep deeply. Nevertheless, it would not be easy to find him. Furthermore, he was sure that everyone was asleep from their fluctuations.

Unless...

Mark turned to the source of the sound. There, Kate sat looking at his direction. It was even though he should not be visible.

She was in her transformed state.

Part of her neck, cheeks, and forehead was covered with multi-colored scales. Kate's eyes that were staring at Mark was releasing a bluish glow around her pupils.

Probing Kate, Mark did not talk and just stared at her.

"You can't pretend that you are not there." Kate pointed at her glowing eyes. "I can see you because of your body temperature."

After saying that, she looked around. Seeing that everyone was still asleep, she stood up and made a gesture at Mark to follow her.

Kate then went out to the balcony of the mansion when she saw that Mark followed her.

"So, what do you want?"

Mark canceled his optical camouflage and asked.

Kate turned around and asked.

"What do you think of me?"

The way she asked was rather suggestive that Mark's eyebrows twitched.

"A THOT?"

Mark replied without even a pint of hesitation.

Kate's smile froze. She surely did not expect that kind of response.

Her shoulder's drooped in realization.

"Do I really look that kind of woman?"

She murmured.

"To everyone, you do."

Mark added which pierced another arrow on her.

"Hahh... It's no use then..." She sighed as she clasped the railing on the balcony. "Case and Kaira managed to leave. I thought that I can too. I just wished that those two asked me to come with them."

"Of course, they won't," Mark spoke. "You looked like you are enjoying being Harold's right hand while sucking up to him on every possible occasion."

"Did you hear that from them?"

Kate looked even more down. However, it made her look like she was just asking for pity. Those with weakness to this would surely fall.

However, Mark could tell that she was genuinely sad.

"I don't even know why everyone thinks of me like that. I never even slept with any man my whole life."

Mark scratched his head. It seemed that he also had a wrong impression of her. He judged Kate by her reigning trait. After all, he also viewed social climbers as a troublesome kind of people.

As for this woman, she had did have even the least idea about how her behavior changed after becoming a Mutator. It was no wonder she felt sad about it.

Being misunderstood was a bad thing. Mark also experienced that when he was younger. It was not a good experience.

However, he could not deny that this woman was genuine about her current emotions. Still, he could not let his guard down since she managed to fake her sleep without Mark noticing.

"Did you fake your sleep?"

Mark asked straight which made Kate confused.

"I didn't?" She replied. "It's more like I was half asleep and talked before I knew I woke up?"

Now, even Mark was confused. She was not lying at all. It seemed that this was a normal occurrence to her. No wonder now how Prince was not able to take advantage of her even in her sleep.

"Anyway, I get what you want," Mark spoke. "You want to join us like Case and Kaira?"

"I do." Kate nodded. "But by your reaction, it looks like I have no chance to."

"What about Harold and your group?"

"Who said that I want to stay with them? Like Case and Kaira, I only stayed because I have no choice. If possible, I will leave as soon as I can. I already planned to leave after reaching the settlement. It's just that I thought that it will be more beneficial for me to join a group like yours."

"I see."

Mark nodded and turned to leave.

Seeing that, Kate was even more crestfallen. It was when she heard Mark speak again.

"My group won't approve just anyone who wanted to join immediately. Let's talk again after reaching the settlement."

Kate's face lit up with hope.

As for Mark he already prepared to vanish. It was when he felt a heavy but soft sensation on his back before a supple lip pecked on his cheek.

Mark stared annoyed at Kate who ran back into their room like a mischievous child. He then took out a clean cloth and rubbed his cheeks before throwing the cloth away.

That act of Kate made him consider rejecting her request to join. However, the ability to see using temperature made him interested. She was not hostile either for him to unreasonably take that ability away from her.

With those thoughts, he vanished from the balcony.

***

Mark returned to his room. There, Mei and the little girls were still awake.

"You all are still awake?"

"Gege, we are waiting for you," Mei replied. "Miracle found something you see."

Hearing that, Mark nodded and let them guide him.

They were currently in the master's bedroom on the highest floor. This bedroom had its own office area and a library.

The four girls led Mark to the library.

A bookshelf was broken. Seeing that the bookshelf had a mark of a child's palm, it was obvious that Miracle hit the shelf by mistake.

However, that was not the issue. Behind the broken bookshelf, there was a huge safe door. Without a doubt, there was a hidden room behind this door.

Now, they just had to find a way to open this door.

While Mark was observing the door, he noticed Abbygale.

Sniff... Sniff...

She was sniffing Mark.

"Gale, what are you doing?"

"Papa smell like another woman? No, a fish?"

Abbygale answered Mark's question with a confused look.

"I see." Mark nodded. "That woman's Mutation seemed like of a fish I guess..."

When he turned around, he saw Mei staring at him.