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410 The Arrival at New Infanta Settlement, The Start of Edzels Quest to Find Answers

 Day 70 - 7:42 PM - New Infanta Settlement, Barangay Banugao, Infanta, Quezon

New Infanta Settlement, it was the settlement built from everyone's sweat and effort.

After the disaster of the rampaging storm and flood thirty days ago, the two different settlements in Quezon merged into one and built this safe haven together. Thus, unlike in Bay City Settlement, where the survivors mostly relied on the Military, the people here valued this place highly. The Military was not the sole protector of this place. Everyone was.

The early days were tough. The infected in nearby areas and mutated animals from across the river would attack almost every day. Everyone capable of fighting had to be ready to be called to fight at any time.

It was very fortunate for them that the animals tamed by the young miss of Salvador Family were always out to warn them of any approaching danger.

By everyone's efforts, proper walls were built around the settlement. Compared to the walls of Bay City Settlement, the walls here looked shabby.

Nevertheless, the military made sure that these walls were tall and strong enough to fend from usual dangers. Of course, they were still putting efforts to improve these walls, but since they were still gathering enough materials, they were taking it at one step at a time.

This night, however, the soldiers were up and were preparing. As there was no alarm for an emergency, the people of the settlement were confused.

Asking around, they learned that it was not a preparation for battle but to prepare for the arrival of some people.

This made the people surprised. As this place here was scoured already by most scavenging groups, they all knew that there were no other settlements nearby. Furthermore, since the military was informed about the arrival, it was very likely that the people arriving belonged to the military. Or in the least, had some relations to them.

It meant that these people actually came from far away and managed to traverse the Mutagen infected world and reach this place. That was a piece of pretty amazing news for them.

Thus, aside from the military, many people gathered for the anticipated arrival of the guests.

Past eight in the evening, the convoy finally arrived.

The bystanders were alarmed by the monster running along with the convoy. However, seeing that the soldiers were not making a move, it was very likely that the monster was not a threat. Some of them could not help but remember the Dragon incident that happened before. There were also the animals of the Salvador family.

Animals and monsters like this could possibly be tamed with the right methods. That was what they were thinking.

The gates opened soon letting the convoy enter.

Seeing some of the vehicles with strange appearances, both the people and the soldiers were surprised. It made them feel like that some groups with advance technology arrived.

The convoy was led by some military vehicles to the military compound on the western side of the settlement.

***

Mark and his group watched the scene inside the settlement as the vehicles drove through the street.

Unlike the last time, he came here, there was a lot of improvement. The farmlands were now filled with newly grown crops, there were walls around, and the devastating atmosphere the people had was gone.

It seemed that by participating in the rebuilding of the settlement from scratch, the people started to accept the current situation of the world.

Upon arriving at the military compound, the officials of the military were already waiting. Led by General Faustino, they welcomed the members of the convoy.

Mark being the commander of the convoy accepted the welcome.

\"It's good to see you again.\"

General Faustino said as he stretched his right hand towards Mark for a handshake.

Mark who still hated to do handshakes resigned to it and accepted the greeting.

\"I'm given a mission, so here I am.\"

Mark replied with a shrug. If there was no need to bring Chervil and his family here along with the soldiers and their families, Mark and his group would have gone straight to the base in the mountains.

Major Bautista, Karlene's father was also here and happily welcomed the return of his daughter. Of course, as she would still leave to join Mark's group, he was cherishing his time with his daughter.

First Lieutenant Baller and the soldiers that participated in the mission were commended by the officials too. What made every soldier here happy the most was the fact that not a single soldier was lost in this mission. It was almost like a miracle as every corner in this world now could cause death at any possible time.

\"Karlene!\"

Two voices hurriedly called out to Karlene. The two were no other than Joash and Tyson.

Joash tried to embrace Karlene. Of course, like a cat with its tail stepped on, she dodged and hid while clinging behind Mark who was nearby. This made Mark rather annoyed.

\"Your father is there, why are you hiding behind me?\"

\"Sorry, I just did it by reflex.\"

Karlene looked like a kid that did a bad thing. She really hid behind Mark without thinking. She slowly turned at Mei who was beside Mark and sighed in relief that she did not look angry as she clung behind Mark.

Joash could only step in front of Mark with an admonishing look.

\"So, it's really true, huh.\"

Joash said as his eyes landed at Mei.

Since Joash stood in front of them, Mei who was not really paying attention saw him.

\"Cousin?\"

She spoke in a confused tone while she pulled on Mark's sleeve.

It was a rather stale reunion for two relatives. Although they knew each other, they were really not close.

Joash did not mind it. He knew about the circumstances Mei had before because of her family. Seeing here being too attached to Mark and looking better than before, he had no complaints about Mei. Of course, Karlene was another thing.

\"Did you also took Karlene as your woman?\"

Joash frankly asked Mark with an annoyed look.

\"What are you talking about?\" Mark replied and turned his eyes towards Karlene. \"Can you let go already? You're giving others a wrong idea.\"

Karlene retreated slowly before running off to her father.

\"There's the answer you want.\"

Mark said to Joash who was now scratching his head.

\"I know, I've been rude, but you don't have to be that harsh on Karlene.\"

Joash already understood that Mark had no interest in Karlene. Of course, he felt a bit troubled seeing the person he liked being reprimanded that way. It was also partly his fault so he became rather guilty.

\"Oh~! Jo!\"

Another voice chimed in calling for Joash. Of course, he was surprised as he saw Analynn waving from the window of the Sci-fi looking truck.

***

The procedures went smoothly and the convoy finally dispersed.

Before everyone went in different ways, the soldiers that came from Bay City expressed their gratitude to Mark's group for keeping everyone safe throughout the whole journey.

There were a lot of close calls that could have claimed a life of one or two soldiers at every instance, but Mark and his group went on great lengths to protect everyone.

If Mark's group was not in this mission, it would be questionable if they would have ever made it here. These soldiers' gratitude and respect towards Mark's group was already off the charts.

As for Harold's group, they went on a separate way. Being survivors rescued by the soldiers, they would be brought to a facility to examine their health first thing by tomorrow.

Mark's group, on the other hand, was brought to another place to spend the night. This place was just outside the military compound and was used as temporary dwellings by the soldiers before the compound was established.

General Faustino actually wanted to bring Mark and his group to a better place. However, the facilities in the settlement were still severely lacking and this much was the highest hospitality they could show.

Mark's group had no problems with the temporary dwellings though. Although it was not as good as the mansion last night, it was way better than their previous two places they spent the night before.

Thus, some decided to turn in for the night while some decided to group up and tour the settlement.

It was already nighttime but it did not mean that the activities in the settlement already ceased.

***

As everyone dispersed, Edzel decided to walk around under the night sky. He did not know why, but he just felt like doing so.

Edzel was not unfamiliar with this place as he had been here before the outbreak a lot of times. It was when he was selling his share of fish from their fishing sessions. Living back then was hard for an orphan like him. Nevertheless, it was fun and peaceful.

Mark had been giving him pointers to fight and Karlene was teaching him how to properly use a gun. He would not deny that he had gotten stronger. Nevertheless, he could not deny the fact that Mark was holding back on making him stronger. It was not a secret now in the group that Mark could turn someone into an Evolver or a Mutator.

Nevertheless, Mark did not give him his turn yet.

This made him rather confused. It was as if he was still lacking something and Mark was waiting for him to learn about it. Karlene also seemed to know about it.

\"If they would just tell me straight.\"

Edzel murmured.

However, it also occurred to him that it was better to realize it himself. This way, he would be able to understand it more deeply than being told by other people. He just wished that he would be able to understand himself further.

Edzel had such deep thoughts in his mind that he started walking blankly.

It was then, that...

\"You seem to be troubled, young man.\"

Edzel stopped as he heard a voice that seemed to echo in his heart and mind. It was as if he was familiar with the owner of the voice and it even felt nostalgic. Nevertheless, he could not recall anything about it.

He turned to the side of the road and saw a silhouette of a man leaning on a tree. Since the man was standing at a direction that the light from the nearest lamp would not shine, all he could see was the shape of the man's body.

\"Who are you? Do I know you?\"

Those were the first questions that escaped from Edzel's mouth.

Hearing that, the man seemed to have smiled.

\"I'm sorry, but I can't answer that. At least, not right now.\"

The man answered which made Edzel even more confused.

\"Enough talking about me.\" The man continued. \"You seem to be missing something, didn't you?\"

Edzel froze. He finally realized that this mysterious man seemed to know what was going on with his mind.

He got the feeling that this man had the answers he was looking for. However, he decided that he would look for the answers himself.

\"I don't know who you are or if you know the answer I'm looking for. Still, I don't need you to tell me.\"

'I don't want to disappoint Boss and everyone.'

He added in his mind.

Hearing that, the man under the tree seemed to have smiled even further. It was a lonely but proud smile.

\"You have grown mature in a short time.\"

Those words gave Edzel the impression that his man had been watching him for a long time.

\"I'm sorry but I have to go.\"

Edzel said and he turned around to leave.

\"North of here, under Agos Bridge. The Hut made of old tarpaulin with a lot of junk around it.\"

The man spoke once more with sentences Edzel was not able to immediately comprehend.

\"Sir, what are you...\"

Edzel turned around once more. He was not able to finish his sentence.

The man was not there anymore.

This made the hairs on his arms stand. He looked around but saw nowhere that the could have hidden. The tree the man leaned before was totally at the side of the road away from any other structure. It was as if he vanished like a ghost.

Remembering that the existence of the ghosts was true made him even more creeped out.

Still, the place that the man said seemed to have engraved itself in his mind and heart. There was a huge urge inside him telling him to go there.

Thus, his random walk under the night gained a specific place to go. He could not help but wonder what could be waiting for him in that place.