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422 The Failed Plans, The Ambush Prepared by the Raiders

 Day 72 - 10:39 AM - Mansion, Padilla, San Jose, Antipolo, Rizal

Black smoke scattered around the hatch found under the statue in the garden. As the smoke spread, it was accompanied by the blood-curling screams of the rotting victims.

What was scarier than dying immediately or being tortured to death?

Feeling a pain worse than being tortured and watching your body rotting slowly.

A grotesque hole opened on your body, slowly eating everything as it dug into your flesh deeper.

Witnessing your skin and flesh reduced to a putrid mush as it exposed your bones and organs.

Seeing such a horrible thing happen to yourself until all signs of life escaped your body. That was one of the worst things that could happen to anyone.

It was a severely nasty way to go. Especially when the last thing they would remember before dying was their rotting organs spilling on the ground.

Those that were not in the radius affected by the black smoke felt their stomach churn at the sight of their dying comrades. At the same time, they felt relieved that they were not the ones in that condition.

They immediately retreated further away, afraid that the black smoke would spread even more. Fortunately, the smoke did not scatter more than it initially had. Almost everyone sighed in relief.

The camaraderie of this group was rather low for sure. It was because relief was evident on the faces of their members that survived. Even though their dying comrades were still rotting in front of them.

On the other hand, Combustion's temper had surely combusted.

Harold was silent as he did not know what to say. Thus, Combustion approached Harold and grabbed the latter on his neck.

By appearance, Harold was older. He was a government worker in his late thirties. Combustion, on the other hand, was only in his early thirties. However, the younger one had a foreigner's blood on him. His stature was way bulkier and taller than the older one.

Furthermore, Harold had a passive personality and a schemer, while Combustion was wilder and a straight-up gangster.

These traits caused the scene that was happening to these two looked natural.

"Boss, you must calm down."

A person approached to stop Combustion. It was the second in command in the group and their second Dual-ability Mutator.

He was called Accell. Of course, it was also an alias. A man in his late twenties who looked like a rational thinker. In fact, his looks matched his role in this group as the planner.

His ability, like his alias portrayed, was superspeed. The muscles and bones in his body mutated in a way that enabled him to move around with inhuman speed. In fact, Accell should be among the team that went to the swimming pool. When the screams were heard, however, he rushed towards this place and saw Combustion grabbing Harold's neck.

Being the brain of the group, it was not hard for him to realize what happened after looking at the surroundings.

"Why are you stopping me? I almost suffered like our men because of this bastard!"

That was right. The leader of the group, Combustion, was not angry about his men dying grotesquely. He was furious because he almost suffered the same fate as those unlucky men.

"Boss, look at him." Accell pointed at Harold. "His face showed it all. He did not know and had no idea that this will happen."

"Tsk!"

Combustion looked at Harold's and saw the confusion in his face. The group leader could only click his tongue as he released him.

They already lost several people. Despite what happened, they could not just kill Harold and reduce their numbers further.

"What do you think this is?

Combustion turned to Accell and asked.

"Surely, a trap. Probably, made using another Mutator's ability." Accell replied. "Harold already said that these supplies were found by another person. The leader of the group that brought them to the settlement. It was likely to be left by them."

Accell replied with sound reasoning. He was totally on point with his deduction.

"Do you remember anything?"

Accell then turned to Harold and asked.

Harold, on the other hand, nodded. He remembered that Mark left this place last. Mark only caught up to the rest on the highway.

Before Harold was able to reply, however, the radio Combustion and Accell had started to release sounds.

"Boss, Accell, can you hear me?"

It was the voice of the third in command in the group.

He was called HawkOwl. Like Combustion and Accell, his alias was given to him because of his ability.

The ability to see far away like a Hawk. Furthermore, it did not matter whether it was day or night, he would be able to see things within a very long distance.

That was not all, however. HawkOwl was also one of the three Mutators with the ability to fly within Infanta Settlement. It was because he could sprout a pair of wings on his back.

Right now, HawkOwl was not here with the rest but was left in the vicinity of the highway. Like always, he served as the main lookout for their group. This the method they always used to find other survivor groups and extort supplies from them.

"What is it, Hawk?"

Combustion thew a last furious glance at Harold before he spoke to the radio.

"I found a large group of vehicles driving on the highway. They seem to be the same group that we saw arrive in the settlement the other day."

Hearing that, both Combustion and Accell looked at Harold.

"They should be coming back for the supplies then."

Combustion nodded. It meant that Harold did not lie to them, and there were really supplies hidden in this place. If that was the case, there was no way for them to let go of this.

"What do you think we should do?"

The leader turned to the brain of their group.

"Actually, I rather not have conflicts with a group that had ties to the military," Accell replied. "But I think it is already late for us to retreat."

Combustion could not help but nod. There was only one entrance to this area, and that was through the highway. To leave this place and escape without getting caught, they could only take the road going to the northwest of the mansion. However, that was also risking themselves.

The reason they managed to reach this place was because of the same group that they wanted to escape cleaned the road already. Going further away was risky as it was likely to be an untouched land since the apocalypse ensued.

"Boss, let's try to communicate and negotiate first. If not, we can only confront them. We should prepare an ambush as fast as possible."

Accell formulated their plan to deal with the situation. They immediately called on everyone and prepared for the arrival of the other group.

***

"Hmm?"

Riding inside the [Exceed: Personnel Carrier], Mark suddenly looked up. It was even though the only thing he could see was the roof of the vehicle.

"Gege, is something wrong?"

Mei asked as she noticed that Mark detected something.

"Someone is watching us."

"From the sky? Is it an animal or an insect?"

"Hmm..." Mark thought for a second and answered. "An animal with two legs, two arms, and looked like an evolved monkey. Well, in a way, its a pest. So, also an insect."

"An enemy, isn't it?"

Mei replied with understanding.

Everyone else inside the vehicle, however, was all confused as to how Mei came to that conclusion.

Unexpectedly, Mark nodded.

It made everyone question their sanity because of these two.

Right now, there was only Odelina, who drove the vehicle, Jaeya, and Edzel inside with Mei and Mark. The others were left back at the base since there was no need for everyone to be here. They were just going to retrieve the supplies they left.

On the other vehicles, there was Arvie and Jason that drove their armored carrier. The armored jeep was driven by Rollan and Nikky. The [Exceed: Disintegrator Fortress] was manned by Edward and Terrence. Lastly, the last vehicle was driven by Monique's husband, Harvey.

As for Chaflar and Gifre, Mark decided not to bring them. It was because while they could help carry the supplies, the presence of the two could deter any prey they could come across. Whether it be humans or animals, Mark would welcome anyone who wanted to be slaughtered.

Fortunately, it seemed that there were some idiots. And more than that, there was someone with the ability to fly. If Mark was a bit crazier, he would have licked his lips already. However, that was out of the bounds of his personality.

***

Arriving at the mansion, Mark told Jaeya to order anyone to stop outside the gates and remain on standby.

On the other hand, Mark stepped out of the vehicle. It was because he needed to face the idiots blocking the gates with their cars.

"One, two, three..." Mark muttered as he stepped forwards. "Twenty-three, huh."

Two people stood in front of the gates, seven people armed with guns were taking cover behind the vehicles that blocked the entrance. The rest were scattered around, hiding in the bushes, tall grass, and trees aside for one person. The last one stood behind the walls hiding from sight and without any urge to fight.

In a sense, Mark and his group were surrounded. As if it mattered, though.

"So, Harold brought you, people, here?"

That was Mark's first words, which not only made the enemies frozen but also shocked Harold that was hiding behind the wall.

Regaining their composure, Combustion spoke.

"Are you the one that set traps to this place?"

"What of it?"

Mark replied nonchalantly.

"Some of my men died because of that black smoke. You better compensate us for our loss."

Hearing that, Mark looked at the tall, burly man standing at the center. That was rather cheeky for someone that tried to steal someone else's stuff. However, as if Mark would fell for that ruse.

That speech Combustion said was only said to buy time. They did have the plan to talk it out first and say that their group accidentally stumbled upon in this place. Then, tell a bunch more lies and stuff.

However...

Mark mentioning Harold in his very first sentence, ruined it all.

Combustion only said those words to make Mark focus on him, while Accell made hand signals for their men to pass onto others.

Since their plan to talk it out, was gone into dust, they could only fight.

Unexpectedly, Mark did not reply at all and just stared at Combustion like he was staring at an idiot. As a person with a bad temper, the leader of the enemies could not stand that stare.

As such, he gave the signal to attack. And it was to...

"PTUI!"

Combustion spat his saliva like a bullet towards Mark. Compared to what he used before, not only this saliva was clumped larger, it was more concentrated.

Mark dodge the saliva. However, before it passed beside Mark...

BOOOOM!

An explosion occurred engulfing the area within a three-meter radius of where the saliva exploded. The high-temperature flames enough to melt iron in seconds, engulfed everything including Mark.

At the same time, the raiders hiding around the bushes, trees, and grass, sprung out of hiding. They all aimed to seize the vehicles of Mark's group.

As they saw Mark engulfed in flames, Combustion, Accell, and even Harold thought that there was a chance to win. From the information they knew from Harold, Mark was the leader and the strongest one in this group. Yet, he was killed rather too easily.

But then, Harold felt uneasy. He felt a threat that could easily threaten his life. It made him want to run away. As he trusted his senses, he really did try to sneak away.

However...

THOOOM!!!

Everything froze.

No, they were not frozen. However, their bodies felt heavy that it seemed to be pushing them in place.

Then, the flames from the explosion vanished.

There, they saw the hazy visage of Mark, who was smiling sinisterly, unscathed. The most terrifying thing, however, was how his glowing red eyes seemed to pierce through their minds.

"Don't celebrate too early," Mark spoke. "You might have caught me off guard... But that is not enough to hit me at all."