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435 A Morning Hunt, A Peek to Their Abilities

 Day 77 - 8:42 AM - Mount Malabito, General Nakar, Quezon

"I hear something. Everyone stays here. Nicole and I will go check."

Huey said in a low voice just enough for everyone around him to hear. Together with Nicole, they ran stealthily through the forest, going towards a specific direction.

As for the remaining eight people together with the two, they found a place to rest while being wary of their surroundings.

This group was currently on duty to hunt for animals to be processed into food. No matter how much food would not be enough for a base, in the long run. As such, they organized a group that would hunt for animals every now and then.

Six people were fixed within that group while anyone could volunteer anytime that they wanted to help.

The leader of this group was Huey and Joleen, who were Mark's left and right hands in managing the base. Together with the two, there was Nicole, and Ed, who were among the earliest people in under Mark. As for the last two, they were there were the sisters, Audrey and Tullia.

In this group, Huey and Nicole served as scouts for finding animals and evading danger. Huey would focus on the noises that he could hear around them. At the same time, Nicole would use her agile movements to observed the environment.

Joleen and Ed were the main fighters. Being trained in fighting and with her evolver ability, to avoid fatal attacks from hitting her, she was extremely efficient for fighting. As for Ed, the physical strength he received from evolving made him a strong melee fighter. The existence of the two in hunting was surely necessary as many mutated animals had hard skin or armor. If bullets or the crossbows were not able to penetrate the animal's defenses, the two would step in.

Ed also served as the group's baggage carrier using the cart he was pulling.

Lastly, the sisters Tullia and Audrey, who were both in charge of the backline and preventing the prey from fleeing.

Tullia was one of the first slaves Mark managed to gather from Death Valley Settlement together with Naomi and Aaron. Audrey, on the other hand, was Tullia's sister, who was caught as a Spy in the Port of Real Settlement before.

After the two were reunited, they lived peacefully in the base and fulfilled their duties happily. When the hunting group was formed, the two volunteered to become one of the central members.

In the first place, Audrey was a Mutator capable of flight. That was why her decision to volunteer for the hunting group was a great help. If the prey they found or animals they encountered were capable of flight, it was her duty to face it. On the other hand, the younger sister, Tullia, was not just a regular person either. Being on a survivor team before being caught by the people of Death Valley, she had her share of fighting experience. The best thing about her was that she was also an Evolver.

Tullia could deduce the distance, trajectory, and speed of a target in a blink of an eye. If the prey was something penetrable with the crossbow she had, there were a lot of times that she alone could take it down. Unfortunately, she was not that good, strength-wise. If she had no chance to shoot her weapon, she could be quickly taken down by fast-moving animals.

And that was why the other members were here to prevent that from happening.

This time, two other people joined the hunting group. They were Edzel and Pearl.

Edzel and Pearl joined today's hunting because of Mark's suggestion. The two needed to gain more experience. They had to learn things that would benefit them in the long run. Furthermore, it would let them find ways to use their newly awakened abilities as Evolvers.

"You okay, Pearl?"

Edzel asked as he helped Pearl sit down on a fallen log nearby.

"I'm fine. Just not used to this."

Pearl replied.

What she said was true. This was the first time she had gone out of the base after arriving. And in her whole life, her first time going up the mountainous terrain of the forest. She was having a hard time keeping up with everyone.

"I told Boss that I can help alone, but he insisted on making you come with us."

"I tell you, I'm fine. I can do at least this much."

Pearl smiled.

Compared to her appearance when Pearl and Edzel reunited, she looked way better than before. Her complexion looked better, and she also gained weight. Although she had not recovered her weight from when they parted ways, she was improving.

The most important thing, Mark's suggestion about using the empty [Physical Crystal] and the [Regeneration Medicine] together showed effectiveness to some extent. Pearl's unhealed wounds and the smaller scars on her body had healed. It was quite unfortunate that that was the extent of the effect as many of her deeper and larger scars remained. Nonetheless, even those scars looked better than before.

Still, Edzel felt bad every time he would see the scar that went across Pearl's face.

While the two talked, Tullia and Audrey were watching them.

"Edzel, don't worry too much. It's pretty normal to get tired after hiking this much. Even my sister is like that the first time we went hunting. The distance was not even half of what we traveled now."

Audrey spoke. What she said, however, annoyed the silent Tullia.

"Sister..."

Tullia said with an annoyed tone and expression.

"Alright, I'll stop."

Audrey said as she hugged Tullia.

Tullia looked uncomfortable as she was being hugged by Audrey. Nevertheless, she did not push her sister away.

Jolleen and Ed, on the other hand, were keeping watch of the surroundings. Well, it was not like both Tullia and Audrey were just fooling around. In fact, compared to Joleen and Ed, the sisters were more sensitive to their surroundings compared to the others within this group.

CRUNCH!

A faint sound was heard which made Tullia and Audrey ready their weapons immediately as they were the first to react. Seeing the sisters, the others also did the same. They then formed a circle with their backs facing each other.

"What do you guys think that is?"

Ed voiced in a whisper.

"It sounds like some dried leaves being stepped on," Tullia replied. "It is hard to pinpoint where it came from, though."

Everyone agreed with Tullia. The sound was too faint that it was hard to know where it came from. The only thing that they could do was to wait for another sound.

But then...

CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH!

Sounds of leaves being crushed were heard several times. The sounds were getting closer each time it was heard. There was no doubt that something was approaching them.

However, they could not see anything.

"Be careful! The enemy is invisible!"

Audrey warned everyone with a serious expression. After all, they could already hear the steps circling around them at a very fast speed. And yet, they could not see anything.

This was the hardest kind of mutated animals to deal with. Those that could either camouflage their bodies to their surroundings or those that could turn themselves invisible. This was not the first time they encountered an animal with this kind of ability. This was the second time. The first time, however, Huey as around to tell them where the enemy was exactly using the sounds it could create.

This time, Huey and Nicole, had run off to scout something. The rest would have a hard time to deal with this thing that was threatening them.

Furthermore, from the number of sounds they could hear, there was not only one enemy. There should be at least three.

One of the sounds suddenly vanished. For some reason, that made them all feel an incoming danger.

But suddenly, a voice was heard.

"Edzel! Point your gun straight to the right and shoot!"

Edzel was rather surprised to be suddenly called out. However, not only that he could not hesitate, the one who spoke was someone he loved.

As such, Edzel stretched his right hand holding the assault rifle to his right and shot.

RATATATA!!!

Several shots were fired which made the others flinch. However...

SHRIK! TAD! SHRUK!

Some of the bullets fired hit something.

THUD!

And that thing fell and slid towards Edzel's foot.

When they looked, there was a large lizard about the size of a cat with wide flaps connecting its forelimbs and body. It was surely a mutated lizard capable of flight.

They could not help but glance at Pearl who had her eyes closed. She was currently using her mutator ability. However, she was still not used to it and lacked practice, since she was still recovering from malnutrition.

The ability she awakened was something not normal either. Unlike most who got strengthened or became more agile, hers was more of a defensive or detection type. It was the ability to sense vibrations with her skin. Still, as she was not used to it, she was having a hard time sensing vibrations through solid matters. It was easier for her to sense vibrations on air and water.

Everyone wanted to commend her, however, it was not the right time.

As the enemies saw one of them got shot down, the noises for crushed leaves vanished. It was good if the enemies fled, however, it was the opposite. The invisible flying lizards decided to attack almost at the same time.

By this time, Joleen had separated herself from the others. It was because she could deal with almost any danger that could befall her. In order to be able to fight more effectively, she needed more space around her.

As for the others, they could only rely on Pearl who was concentrating hard on her ability.

When the joint attack happened, Pearl also spoke as fast as she could.

"Miss Audrey, in front! Um, forty-five degrees above! Miss Tullia, diagonally to the left! Sir Ed, directly in front and another to your right foot! Edzel! Another one in front! Miss Joleen,-"

"Don't worry about me! I can handle mine! Just support everyone!"

Pearl instructed everyone with her shaking voice. It would be a lie if she said that she was not scared. Rather, she was too scared that her knees were shaking. However, she was trying as hard as she could to hold her fort.

As for Joleen, she cut off Pearl in order to save time. She might get wounded a little, it the least, her body would immediately move if she would receive a rather heavy blow.

Just like Joleen had expected, even without knowing why, her body had ducked on its own. Realizing that something might have flown towards her head, she immediately sliced the air above her head with her Wakizashi.

With a quite uncomfortable feeling, she surely sliced something. Red blood was almost splashed on her as a lizard was bisected. Several more attacked her, however, the lizards were dealt the same way.

The others also showed their skills as they followed Pearl's instructions.

Edzel, on the other hand, struggled a bit. It was because not only that more lizards attacked him for some reason, he also had to protect Pearl.

Thus, he also exhibited his Evolver Ability. Furthermore, his ability could be said as one of the stranges ones from the Evolvers seen by everyone before. Using his hands, he could release a strong vibration, which would cause a shockwave, towards a direction he wanted. The harder he clapped his hands or flicked his fingers, the stronger the shockwave was.

As it was hard for Edzel to maneuver his assault rifle towards several directions, he would use his opposite hand and flick his fingers towards the directions Pearl mentioned.

Although the shockwave was not enough to kill the lizards, it was enough to stop their attacks even if the flick was not accurately lined with the invisible lizards' attacks.

Soon, Huey and Nicole were seen rushing back to the rest. It was impossible for Huey to not notice the disturbance. However, they were already quite a far distance away when it started.

Still, when the two returned, the battle was over.

"Huey! Nicole! What took you two so long?" Joleen asked as the two returned. "Do you think, we can eat these?"

While Joleen asked the two, Ed and Edzel could be seen loading more than twenty dead cat-sized lizards into the cart.

The two could only scratch their heads. They were already late and the battle was already finished. The group had received some injuries, but the injuries were just scratches or bruising. Nothing was severe.

Huey could not help but look at a certain direction with a sigh.

***

In that direction, someone was watching. This person was also the actual reason why Nicole and Huey left. Also, the reason why the lizards appeared around the rest of the group.

Well, he was quite pleased with how they handled the situation. It was not the best, but it was better than failing. Especially Joleen and Edzel, their improvement were the largest. Still, they would need further training.

***

Thus, the hunt ended rather early. These mutated sure were edible. The meat was not much for each lizard, however, the number made up for it.

And for the menu this day, a lizard soup was added.

Normally, no one would want to eat a lizard like this. Nevertheless, no one would be picky when it came to the meat of mutated animals. Unless it was poisonous... No, even poisonous ones, once cooked properly, the taste was priceless. Especially, it was handled by a professional cook like Trisha.