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114 Before Leaving Firenze

 Day 4 - 8:16 AM - Firenze Townhouse Complex Subdivision, La Joya St., Buhay na Tubig, Imus, Cavite

Mark was silently listening to Paula as she narrated what happened after their groups parted ways at the mall. The story took more than fifteen minutes but the people around Mark patiently waited why he listened on the phone. Looking at his solemn face, something serious might have happened. That was also the reason none of them tried to interrupt him either.

The news of Bernard and Calvin dying helplessly like that made him felt sour for several reasons. It would be a lie if he did not feel sad about it. Despite the fact that he did not know the two for long, knowing that people you knew and fought with died would make anyone feel bad. The bigger reason for his mood being down however were the several essential pieces of information he received from her story.

One of those was the existences the military called Unknown. He might be able to identify them whether they were Mutated Infected or Failed Mutator but the issue was not the kind of creature they were but the level of their strength and abilities. He could still remember the video he watched before where the military were fighting with a creature that came from the pilot cabin of a crashed airplane. Considering the description Paula made on the appearance of the creature, the two might be the same type or level of creature. Moreover, these creatures could appear everywhere. Just like what happened to Paula's group, they encountered that thing the moment they left the City Mall.

Another thing he could confirm was that the creature they encountered should be a high level Mutation Infected. It was because it was coming obviously targeting Paula like how he was being targeted by Mutated Infected upon seeing him. He also realized the reason why he was being targeted every time and during the time that he and Paula were in the same location back in the City Mall, Mutated Infected would appear before them and come after them without apparent reason. No, not only the Mutated but there were even instances that the Biters had appeared before them that it even felt like that the infected were spawning or teleporting around them.

What similarities did the two of them have? Both of them could be regarded as what many people called as Espers and both of them already had these abilities even before the outbreak. If that was really the case, then the Mutated Infected was aiming for them because of their abilities.

One more thing he realized was that the evolution could not only be triggered by forcing someone to surpass his limits like he did when he subdued Laelaps and by luck. It looked like that the evolution could also be triggered because of a person's intense emotions like what happened to Joseph. The idea of this gave some insights but it would need some confirmation to be done.

"Mark? Mark! Are you still there? Why are you not talking anymore?"

Mark heard Paula shouting from the other side of the line.

"Sorry about that, I just got something on my mind at the moment."

"Geez, please, seriously listen to me while I'm talking."

Paula sounded exasperated.

"Alright, alright. Anyway, is Angeline fine already?"

"She's out of danger but the doctors could not say when she will wake up. It's good that the Mutagen helped in her recovery during the time she got wounded or else, she might not have made it."

"It's good then."

Saying that, Mark's eyes landed on Mikio for some reason before he continued talking on the phone.

"By the way, is text messaging possible in this communication line? I haven't tried it yet."

"I think it is. I saw Raf sending messages before."

"Raf... He's Angeline's brother right?"

"He is."

"Alright then, the reason I called is because I wanted to ask a favor."

"What is it?"

"I wanted to check if some people I know were there at Bay City taking refuge. Is it possible?"

"It's obviously possible. Do you want me to take them in?"

Paula suggested.

"Can you? Well, it's not confirmed yet that there really are there but if it is the case then please. I'll send a message later with the names of people who are possibly there."

"No problem."

"Okay then, thanks. We'll be going there after we end our search here. Also, since you're going to do that, I'll tell you a tip."

"What tip?"

Mark decided to warn Paula about their circumstances.

"Even though it's less likely to happen since you're inside a safe zone, don't try to show yourself in front of the Mutated Infected."

"Why?"

"You have that ability right? The one you inherited from your mother. It seems people like us are being targeted by Mutated Infected."

"People like us... Then are you too..."

"That's right."

After that, Mark said a few more things to Paula before they ended the conversation.

"How is it?"

Charmaine asked as one of the reasons for the call was their older sister.

"I'll send a message first. But the person I talked to said that she will check if the names of the people I will send her are present there."

Mark replied.

"Alright."

Charmaine and Cielo looked like they wanted to know the result as early as possible but they could only wait.

Mark did not intend to say the bad news about Angeline, Bernard and Calvin to Odelina and Mei right now as he did not want to make the atmosphere even more down. Furthermore, with the two aside, the other people here did not know those three.

He then looked towards the Rosamie and her children.

"Mrs. Rosamie, what are your plans?"

"Why do you ask?"

Rosamie replied at his sudden question.

"Actually, if possible I want you three to join us."

"Alright, I agree."

Rosamie answered straightforwardly that all of them were surprised.

"Don't you need to think about it more or ask for any reason?"

"There's no need to."

Rosamie replied with a smile. She then continued.

"Actually, if you did not ask, I'll be the one asking you to let us join your group. You're searching for people and I also wanted to search for my brother. Furthermore, it's not good for us to stay here."

Rosamie then narrated the situation where her daughter saved the police who were entangled with the gang members.

"With what happened, I don't think that they would be able to protect my children and it would be the other way around. I know it sound selfish but I don't want to put the lives of other people on the hands of my children. They are just children and they don't deserve such responsibility."

"I don't mind though..."

Emika interjected while looking at her mother.

Rosamie patted her daughter's head.

"You don't mind but I do."

Looking back to Mark she asked.

"Is that reason plausible?"

"I might ask your children to do some things though?"

Mark tried to affirm something.

"It's fine as long as my children aren't put in any harm."

Rosamie seriously replied.

To her, her children, was her everything. She already lost her husband and she was trying to atone for it. Her mistake was the reason that all her family members got bitten and that mistake was because she tried to help someone else. She was lucky that her children managed to make it despite the changes in their bodies. Her husband on the other hand became a monster.

Due to that reason, she did not want to make the same mistake and she did not want to put them in danger.

Furthermore, the atmosphere in this group suited her children more and the carefree and positive attitude of their members showed how secure they felt within this group.

With that, three more people were added to their group and their presence elevated their combat capability even more.

After finalizing their plans, they now have some free time. This free time was most essential to the four people who had just arrived this time especially Rollan who was stranded in an unfamiliar place prone of danger, lacking food and sleep.

The moment Rollan slumped himself on the bed in one of the rooms, he fell asleep almost immediately. Without the feeling of threat and fear that an infected would suddenly broke down the doors of the place he was staying, his fatigue kicked in severely.

On the other hand, Rosamie's family of three had it better. With Emika by their side, they managed to spend most of the night at the convenience store safely.

Back in the master's bedroom, Mark sat in front of a study table and was checking the contents he wrote in his notebook during their discussion. It was the locations they needed to check consecutively. However, Mark had another thing in mind while he did the checking.

"Gege, what are you thinking about?"

Mei approached behind him as she noticed that something was bothering him.

"I'm thinking about how to do this efficiently. We needed to finish searching for people as soon as possible."

Mark replied tapping on his chin.

"That's true. With the infected everywhere, we need to search for them fast."

"No, that's not the only reason."

Mark said while looking serious. Mei looked at him asking for more explanation.

"Tell, me. What happens after the waves in the ocean hit the shore?"

"The water comes back to the ocean right?"

Mei answered. Then she paused.

"Gege, are you saying that the infected that chased after fleeing survivors you mentioned before will go back?"

"Yes. If the infected managed to reach the ends of the country and had nothing to chase anymore, they will end up scattering and going back to where they came from while searching for prey. When that time comes, the number of infected roaming the street will inflate horribly. Not to mention, how many Mutated Infected among those numbers will exist."

Mei's face also turned grave hearing what he said. Mark then continued.

"That's why we needed to hurry and search for the people we need to find and look for a safe place we can use as a base. If we can't then, we will go and stay at the Bay City. I know you will not like it there since your family is there that is why I put it as the last choice."

"Gege, its fine."

Mei tried to smile but failed.

Seeing that expression of hers, Mark sighed.

"You want a hug?"

"Gege, I..."

"You don't have to hold it in. I know you're trying hard to hide it but you're trauma is coming back when you saw that guy earlier."

Mark noticed it since earlier. Even though Mei tried very hard, her voice was wavering from time to time and her body would shiver without any reason. Her eyes also appeared distressed. Well, even without those clues, Mark could tell due to the fluctuation in her emotions that was too unstable. It was just a few days after that happened after all and her bad memories came back after she saw one of the culprits that caused what happened to her at the mall.

"Gege, I just don't want to be a burden."

"You're being more of a burden by trying to hold it in you know that."

With that, Mark stood up and pulled her into his embrace.

Feeling his warmth, she almost gave in. Tears formed at the corner of her eyes but she tried her best not to cry. However, Mark could only smile to that. At least he was trying her best in her own ways. Moreover, her unstable emotions started to calm down.

Their free time passed peacefully and they ate their lunch early about two hours later.

At noon, two vehicles went out of Firenze, a black refitted MB Sprinter and a TYT Vios covered with green flowered vines. Mark's group finally continued their journey leaving the disappointed Police Chief and Congresswoman behind.

***

Day 4 - 12:02 PM - Patindig Araw Rd., Anabu I-G, Imus, Cavite

In a certain warehouse a kilometer away northwest of Firenze, several men and women were watching a monitor with a video feed coming from a drone. On the monitor, two vehicles could be seen driving out of Firenze.

There were six men inside the room and each of them had a woman by their side. However, it could be seen that these women were brought here by force. They were dressed skimpily and their eyes were filled with despair.

"I never thought that we would find those two together, Boss."

One of the men sitting on the sofa said to the man in the center.

"What I never thought that the person who caused us to fail and lose a lot of men three years ago would appear this way. Even our plan to take over Firenze failed because of him."

"What are we going to do Boss?"

"Just let them go for now but continue on monitoring them. I'm sure that they will return here."

In that room, a plan against Mark's group was being brewed.