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78 Extortion Attemp

 Day 3 - 7:43 AM - Bacoor City Hall 4th Floor, Molino Boulevard, Bayanan, Bacoor City, Cavite

Mark and Abbygale entered the fourth floor of the City Hall. Even with the fact that the suspended pathway could be accessed at the third floor of the gymnasium office building, it was directly connected to the highest floor of the City Hall. The reason for this was the difference in elevation of the two buildings. The City Hall was built about a floor lower than the gymnasium.

Looking at the scene inside the building, it did not look like the building was implicated by the apocalypse. Rather, the scene inside the building looked like it just experienced a magnitude 7 earthquake. The floor and walls had cracks, the floor had risen and sunken parts. Even the back part of the floor was obviously slanted. The glass dividers of the rooms were broken and the cabinets and tables were toppled.

And the culprit of what happened to the building was visible from Mark and Abbygale's point of view. At the straight hallway, they could see the large tree trunk that even blocked half of the corridor. Not only that, the part of the trunk that they could see was just about a quarter of the whole trunk. The remaining part of the trunk was hidden behind the ruined walls.

By the looks of it, the huge tree tore its way out almost at the center of the building. There were even the marks left behind by the tree's branches as it tore its way through the ceiling.

Before proceeding, Mark checked his equipment. He still had several clips of ammunition but he already used up a third of all the 5.56 mm caliber ammunition he brought. He drank a half bottle of cold water and gave the half to Abbygale which she calmly drank. It was good that he did not use pep bottles as water container but vacuum insulated water bottles. He brought five of these bottles in his back pack, two for cold water, two for heated water and the last one for low sugar soda.

Mark switched the half full clip of his M16 to a full one and started to move. He was sure that this floor was devoid of infected as he managed to navigate the drone here without problems and the survivors here were openly on this floor.

When they arrived near the trunk of the tree, Mark started to be careful with his footing. The floor was too uneven and the parts of the floor that had cracks looked like it would crumble any moment. As the two passed by the trunk, they could not help but stop and look at the trunk with curiosity. Looking at it, just the visible part of the trunk already needed four people with outstretched hands to cover its width.

Mark scaled the trunk with his eyes while frowning. He could feel a very faint fluctuation from the tree. As he felt that, he could not help but suspect that this tree had a little bit of sentience. There was also the strange behavior of the Mutant Woodman outside. He already noticed it when he was scouting the perimeter of the compound using the drone. The Mutant Woodman was moving slowly around the City Hall but did not seem to dare to come close or enter the building.

Thinking about it deeper, his conjectures were plausible. And if this tree really had sentience, it was not aggressive. Or else, how could the survivors stay here safely.

Mark decided to ponder about these things later. Right now, he needed to get to Charmaine as soon as possible.

He looked up and saw the crack on the ceiling he used when he made the drone enter the building. They followed the path the drone took before and reached the corner of the hallway that would directly lead them to the reception area of this floor, the area where the survivors were staying.

"Gale, just follow behind me alright?"

The little girl nodded at Mark's instruction but he had a feeling that he should keep this little girl on a leash or something.

With Abbygale following behind him, Mark calmly walked towards the reception area. Actually, he could already see the people on the reception area and the people also saw him. However, no one went to approach him. Of course, who in the right mind would approach a fully armed person with his face fully covered.

It looked like these people here were still in their right minds.

When Mark and Abbygale reached the reception area, every one present was carefully watching him. The police and body guards were even standing in front of the congresswoman.

Mark's gaze swept through the people and stopped on a person. It was the man wearing a business suit that pushed Charm earlier and destroyed the radio. There were two bodyguards standing in front of him. It looked like that not all of the bodyguards here belonged to the congresswoman, different from what Mark thought.

Abbygale saw the businessman and her eyes lit up. She was already in the posture to dash over and give the businessman a brutal kick. However, as she kicked her foot on the floor, her kick did not give her any force to move forward. She felt an arm latch onto her waist and lifted her up.

"You're not going on kill-stealing again. Seriously..."

She looked up at her Papa with displeasure.

"Mu! Papa! I want to do it!"

She threw a tantrum.

"No. If you don't listen to me, there's no cuddle later."

Her face became sullen as she crossed her arms while hanging on her Papa's left arm. Still, she finally conceded and went silent.

Mark noticed Abbygale as she moved into the posture to charge towards the businessman and lifted her up. This savage little girl was actually going to steal his kill again.

The people around saw what the two was doing and looked at two without knowing how to react to their banter.

'These two were actually father and daughter?'

That was what was running in the minds of the people around them.

Even Charm was surprised. She knew that it was her Big Brother that came as she still remember his stature and his voice but she did not expect that he already had a daughter! Back then before he separated from them, he was the type of man who would not fall into any relationship easily. Did a woman got interested and married her Big Brother? Looking at the beautiful doll like girl, it was impossible that the partner was not a good looking woman either.

While most of the survivors saw it as a normal banter while disregarding the contents of what the father and daughter said, the businessman, his bodyguards and the congresswoman's group totally understood what the two was talking about. The two intended on ending the man's life!

The businessman started sweating. Then he looked for a way as he looked at his two bodyguards.

'The man with the assault rifle was one thing but what could the little girl do?'

The businessman's confidence grew. They had more numbers. What was he afraid of?

Mark then looked at the man. He was monitoring everyone's emotional fluctuation so he could at least guess what the man was thinking. Using his free hand, he pointed the assault rifle towards the man's group.

The businessman's eyes grew wide while the two bodyguards also pointed their pistols at Mark while blocking the man from Mark's assault rifle.

"Big Brother..."

Charmaine who was just a few meters away from Mark called him. Mark replied without looking at her and kept staring at the businessman's group.

"Charm, just wait there a little bit. I'll just deal with this guy first."

"But..."

"Just wait there."

Mark's voice was firmer this time making her stop. The nurse beside her also stopped her from talking as she was in a bad condition right now.

It was a stand still between the bodyguards and Mark. Both parties were silent. The one who broke the silence was the little girl who was being lifted by her Papa.

"Papa, too slow."

It was not that Mark was being slow or he was trying to read the two bodyguards. He was waiting for something.

Mark smirked behind his mas as he saw the businessman who was dripping with cold sweat.

Then, it was then that the congresswoman made a move. She stepped in front of her guards despite their protests and spoke.

"Excuse me but isn't it better if you all stand down. It would be a problem if the infected outside get alarmed if a shootout starts here right now. There are also other people here that might get implicated."

It was what Mark was waiting for, for the congresswoman to stand up and mediate. From the video feed Mark saw from the drone, he was sure that this man he intended to kill was someone with high standing or else, this congresswoman might had already made a move on that man so they could get his approval to help them.

"It's not a problem to us if the infected gets alarmed. We're leaving after I get my sister out of here. The problem is yours, not mine. Besides, you all saw what happened. It's not us who started it."

When the people around heard him, they draw in a cold breath. This guy did not care about humanism at all! The congresswoman was right! He was also right! If a gunfight were to happen, not only they will get implicated but will also attract the monsters below. And none of it was his problem once they left!

"What could we do for you to stop?"

The congresswoman thought of the consequences. Whether the businessman or the man with the little girl won, everyone here would be in grave danger. She decided to relent and negotiate.

"Then, give me compensation, for him pushing my sister and for destroying my radio. What can you give me?"

The congresswoman was exasperated inside. She realized that this man was doing this on purpose! It was extortion! Still, she could not do anything about it! In the first place, it was the businessman's fault!

"What do you want?"

"Ehh... Why are you asking me what I want? I doubt you have it. That's why I'm asking WHAT you can give me."

The congresswoman felt helpless. In her whole political career, she was never at a disadvantage like this! What could she give him?

Food? Even she had not eaten a meal since yesterday night!

Weapons? They even barely had anything left! All of his guards had guns but not all of them still had ammunition remaining. Even if she gave all the ammunition they had left, were those enough to satisfy him? Surely not!

"Big Brother!"

Charmaine called.

"What?"

"Please, don't make it difficult for Madam Lanie. She did her best to help us all here. She even gave me her last cracker last night."

Hearing what Charmaine said. Mark's view about the congresswoman lightened a bit and decided to compromise a little.

"If you don't have anything, then just give me information."

Congresswoman Lanie's face lightened as she looked at Charmaine with gratitude.

"What information."

"First, about the huge tree that grew through the building. Second, the information about the premises of the Police Command Center, especially the armory. I want the claim of any weapon and equipment in there."

"Alright."

The congresswoman nodded.

"But Madam! The weapons and equipment there are property of the police! It's against the law to hand those over to anyone without proper authorization!"

One of the policemen behind Madam Lanie voiced his concerns. The congresswoman looked at him with a helpless expression.

"Law and order already collapsed. Also, it's better to make use of those weapons and equipment rather than making it rot there."

She then looked towards Mark.

"You said that you claim of any weapon and equipment but I'm sure that you can't take all of those. We can take the remains right?"

What she said was reasonable. Mark nodded.

"Then, can you please lower your gun already?"

She turned towards businessman and his bodyguards.

"You people, also. Put down your guns."

Both parties lowered their weapons at the same time.

As the conflict was somehow alleviated, everyone watching sighed in relief.

Mark left a last glance at the businessman's group and went towards Charmaine with the displeased Abbygale in tow.