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79 Getting Information

 Day 3 - 8:11 AM - Bacoor City Hall 4th Floor, Molino Boulevard, Bayanan, Bacoor City, Cavite

Mark, who had already removed his mask, sat in front of Charmaine. She narrated what happened to her while she ate the food her Big Brother brought for her.

According to her story, when the infected came, it was total chaos. The local government was actually waiting for the military evacuation team to come before the outbreak reached this area but the evacuation team never came. At the last moment, the police and the other government armed divisions tried to evacuate the people by themselves but failed miserably. Not only they lost people and failed to evacuate, all the people who tried to evacuate fell into the hands of the infected.

"It's good that you didn't join them."

Mark said as he put Abbygale in front of him and cuddled her to stop her tantrum. He channeled that calming energy to her and tried to control it little by little. It was effective as the little girl started curl into his embrace and slowly drifted into sleep. He was also managing to train his ability like this.

"I actually wanted to join them but the people pushed me behind. They all rushed to the vehicles that I didn't even had the chance to squeeze through."

Charmaine said with a bitter smile. Still, her not being able to join those people saved her. She continued with her story.

Without any choice left, the people who lost hope in evacuating went into the building and tried to barricade the higher floors. Then the massacre happened.

"Then what about that huge tree?"

Hearing what Mark asked about, Charmaine shook her head.

"The tree started to grow yesterday. It took it about a whole day I think. No one was able to rest the whole time it was growing. The building was shaking too much that everyone was afraid that it would collapse."

The weariness was visible in Charmaine's eyes while she narrated what happened yesterday.

"Eat up and regain your strength. Well leave this place after you recover."

Charmaine looked at Mark for a bit while thinking about something. Seeing his resolute expression, she finally nodded.

"Brother, can I share some of these?"

She grabbed several packs of biscuits and asked Mark.

Mark did not even have to look to other directions. He could feel the envy and the eagerness of the people around as they saw the food he brought for Charmaine. Even the guards, the policemen and the congresswoman was not an exception. However, no one dared to ask for food from her while Mark was there. By what he behaved earlier, everyone think of him as a ruthless and lawless person who would kill for the slightest grievance.

Mark sighed while looking at Charmaine. This girl had not changed at all. Like several years ago, she was not selfless but not selfish either. She would share things if she have some extra.

"Alright, just be sure to leave enough for you to eat. There aren't much of those."

Hearing what he said, Charmaine was delighted. She immediately called the nurse and gave several packets for the people to share. It was not enough at all but at least, they had something to put into their stomachs.

Mark caressed the head of the sleeping savage girl which took Charmaine's attention.

"Big Brother, you're already married?"

To her question, Mark did not know how to react.

"I didn't. You think, someone would fall for someone as worthless as me?"

"You're still harsh to your self aren't you? If you haven't married yet, then this girl is?"

"A kitten I picked up."

"Big Bro. I'm asking seriously here."

"I really picked her up. I'm not joking."

Charmaine had a lot of questions about the little girl but was forced to stop since Mark shoved a piece of packed bread into her mouth.

"You're asking too much. Just concentrate on eating."

She looked at her Big Brother with eyes filled with grievance. He just needed to say it if he wanted her to stop talking. He did not need to shove that piece of bread to her mouth!

Since Abbygale was asleep, Mark tried to peel her off and make the little girl lay down beside Charmaine but as he tried to do so, she immediately woke up.

"Gale, just sleep for a bit would you?"

The little girl rubbed her eyes and answered.

"No. If Papa is leaving, I'll go too."

Mark looked at the little girl. She was not familiar with anyone here so she did not want to be left alone. He could not reprimand her either as she meant no harm... At least, to him and his people.

"Alright, but don't do anything without my permission."

Abbygale nodded.

"Charm, I'll just talk to them for a little. Finish your food alright."

"Big Brother. Don't fight with them."

"Don't worry, I won't. Unless, they start first."

Mark together with Abbygale left Charmaine with the nurse.

Charmaine looked at his back as he left. She was really worried that Mark would fight with the congresswoman and her guards. It looked like her brother changed a lot in the past years. He was always silent and timid before but now, he was behaving unruly and brave.

***

Mark approached the congresswoman's group and was led into an office. Of course, as a congresswoman, her office was not in this place. The office Mark was led to was actually the office of the mayor. It gave Mark a question in his mind.

'What happened to the mayor?"

Still, Mark had no notion to voice this question. It was not hard to guess what could have happened to the Mayor if he was not here.

When Mark entered, the congresswoman led him to seat in front of the mayor's table and she sat behind it. The bodyguards stood by the door while only one of the policemen stood beside her. Mark sat on the chair and Abbygale sat on his lap.

"I want to apologize about what happened earlier. We did not expect that he would push your sister away and snatch the radio. He even ended up breaking it."

Madam Lanie put up an apologetic expression. Mark felt that she was really sorry but as if he'd just accept that apology.

"I don't care about your apology. The damage had already been done and I already reduced the compensation as much as possible. Actually, I want to at least have a replacement for the radio but I don't want those outdated models the government issued the police and the military."

"You-!"

The policeman was about to say something but the congresswoman stopped him by raising her hand.

"I'm really grateful that you toned down the compensation you wanted. We really have nothing to give you if you didn't."

Mark looked at her directly.

"Actually, you guys are not the ones to pay but that guy. Why are you even taking responsibility for him?"

"You don't understand. We politicians have to rely on connections to do a lot of things, not only for ourselves but also for the people. That man, he had relatives in the senate you see and they are in the same party as us."

Mark nodded. He understood the context as it was not a new topic at all.

"Back to what I'm here for, I want to ask what you know about the huge tree above us."

The congresswoman had a bad premonition as Mark suddenly changed the topic but could not get hold of it. Since it was like that, she just proceeded to answer his question. But first...

"Could you please introduce yourself first? I really have a bad time finding out how I should address you."

Mark felt exasperated. Introducing himself was one of the things Mark hated to do.

"Mark, just Mark is fine."

"Mark is it?"

Mark nodded.

"Now, answer my question."

Madam Lanie rested her hands on the table and replied.

"Actually, we have no idea where the tree came from or why it grew from beneath this building. However, we knew that the infected outside seem to be affected by the tree."

"Are you talking about the infected with wooden skin and that large one that frequent the back of the building?"

"Yes. They started to appear while the tree was growing. Since we are occupied trying to resist the tremors while the tree grew, none of us actually saw how the infected changed."

Mark grew silent as one of his theories was proven. The huge tree really had a connection with the Woodmen.

"If you knew nothing about the tree, I'm at a disadvantage with the deal don't I?"

Now that Mark brought it up, the congresswoman also felt troubled.

"Nevermind. Just tell me the information I needed about the Police Command Center."

"There's no problem about that."

Madam Lanie pointed her open palm to her left.

"This is Chief Mallari. As the chief of our local police branch, he knew the most about it."

As he was introduced, Chief Mallari gave Mark the information he wanted to know. He even showed Mark a rough sketch of how the floor plan of the Command Center looked like. From the front desk to the armory, everything was showed to Mark.

"Alright, this is enough."

Mark took the sketch of the floor plan and rolled it.

Then, Madam Lanie asked a question.

"I want to ask. Do you not have a single thought of helping the people here?"

"Don't bother about asking that. I don't."

"Why?"

"Why should I? All of you guys had nothing to do with me at all. Furthermore, you guys will just end up as nuisance if I did help you."

The chief, the policemen and the bodyguards who heard him felt incensed. What in the world are you saying?

On the other hand, Madam Lanie remained composed. Mark then continued.

"First, I have to find several more people. Going in a large group with a very low combat ability will end up with everyone dying. A large group is eye catching and hard to hide. Second, I don't have anywhere to put you all into. I can't escort you to Bay City either. Third, are you guys able to provide your own necessities? The main battle strength would surely become my group. I don't want to take on that responsibility. You might have your guards but the rest are total baggage."

The men inside clenched their fists but did not have the reason to refute him. All what he said was true after all.

Mark then stood up and put down Abbygale on the floor.

"You're leaving already?"

"That's right. I already have what I wanted. There's no reason to stay."

"Is that so?"

The congresswoman had a bitter look on her face. There was really no way for cooperation.

"Won't you at least take my men with you to retrieve the weapons in the PCC? They can help you."

"What kind of help? If they are willing to be a baggage carrier then I can bring them with me."

The men were really enraged now. They were trained combatants and police! What did he mean what he said?

Knowing the minds of the people around, Mark snickered.

"You guys shouldn't try to inflate your egos. I know that you guys haven't eaten anything since last night. Do you have the energy to spare and say that you guys could help? Don't make me laugh. Spend your energy to find your own food than becoming baggage for me."

With that, Mark stepped out of the room with Abbygale tugging behind him.

The people inside was left incensed and speechless.

The congresswoman plopped herself onto the table.

"Madam, are you fine?"

Chief Mallari asked.

"I'm fine. I just feel stressed and hungry. It is hard to talk to that man."

"That's right. He is full of air and even belittled us. It's no wonder that you will have a hard time talking to him Madam."

One of the bodyguards said.

"All of you don't seem to understand. What you said is true but that is not the reason. I just feel that, that man knew what I and you people are thinking. He's not leaving holes for us to exploit at all."

"That can't be right? Madam, are you sure about that?"

Another bodyguard asked. But the one that replied was the Chief.

"I also noticed it. That guy sure can read us."

With that, the men fell silent.