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125 The First Sign of the Wave and the Strange Crystals

 Day 5 - 5:19 AM - Taal Lake St., Lakeville Subdivision, Molino VII, Bacoor City, Cavite

Everyone in Mark's group finally felt relived after crossing over the bridge that marked the boundary of the subdivision they had just exited and unto the next one. The feeling of being chased by hundreds or even thousands of infected was suffocating even with the fact that they were inside their vehicles. As they finally lost their pursuers, everyone started to calm down from their tenseness. Well, except for Mark, Abbygale and Mei that did not seem worried about the infected chasing behind in the first place.

Laelaps being not nervous was one thing since she was a dog, but these three...

Even Mark who was the person that was initially being chased was not showing any fear at all and rather, he was even looking happy. The others did not know what to think of them anymore.

"Papa, what is that?"

Abbygale pointed at the huge insect now lying down in the floor. It obviously looked like a large beetle but why her Papa would bring this here and it was not moving at all. The little girl then crouched down beside the huge beetle poking it cautiously.

Everyone inside the vehicle heard the little girl turning their attention to the large insect Mark brought into the vehicle. The beetle was too large that it actually occupied the width between the seats on both sides as it lay on the floor horizontally.

Mark who had just started to relax his tired legs also stared this Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle he luckily caught incredulously. The others might not know about it but this guy was too scared that it stopped moving and played dead on the floor of the vehicle. It even lay on its back with its legs tightly crossed on its abdomen. It was scared due to the fact that there were many people inside the vehicle.

The women felt a little uneasy with a very huge bug like that especially Anna who seemed to have forgotten about her grief trying to stay away the oversized beetle as much as possible. It looked really ridiculous as she could not back away too much either as she would push Sundra and Carlo that sat beside her towards the back of the vehicle were Janette was tied up.

"Gege, this is?"

Even though Mei seemed to be not afraid of the beetle at all, she also looked confused. Her Gege after all went home to get his things. Just where did this huge bug come from?

As everyone was looking at him asking for explanation, Mark could tell them.

"Well, you guys probably won't believe me but this beetle here is a Mutator."

Hearing that, everyone was shocked.

"Even bugs can become Mutators?"

Charmaine voiced in askance.

"It's not really farfetched though since we had a Mutator Dog there."

Mark pointed at the back where Laelaps was curled up. She was not really sleeping but it just seemed that she was uneasy riding inside the vehicle being the reason for her to behave this way most of the time.

Now that Mark mentioned it, it was really not farfetched for a bug to be a Mutator since a dog could become one but it was just they had not thought of the possibility.

"But how did you manage to catch it?"

Melissa asked as she curiously looked at the bug that was not moving even a little bit. Its body was actually moving but the movements came from the vehicle and not made the bug itself.

To her question Mark replied.

"I don't know if you can consider what happened as catching."

Mark then narrated what happened before he caught the beetle. What Mark emphasized in his story was the behavior of the beetle but the people listening to him were more alerted by the fact of a group of human head sized infected cockroaches existing. Not only the females but Rollan and Carlo also shivered to that thought.

"By the way Master, since we are talking about it, why does it seem that we never see or encounter infected insects and animals before? I know that Laelaps was infected before becoming a Mutator and the cat at the city hall is not an infected but an evolved one. But except those two, we never encountered infected ones or other evolved ones."

Since it was already on topic, Odelina could not help but ask. Ever since they left the mall, they never encountered infected or evolved animals and insects with the exception of Laelaps and the huge cat. They saw carcass and bones on the road belonging to some animals but that was it.

As Odelina asked, Mark sighed. With those infected cockroaches suddenly appearing, Mark thought that it was really a bad sign. It was already the fifth day of the outbreak and to say, the survivor chase should already be over on the third day in this part of the country.

Mark leaned his body on the backrest of his seat and decided to talk about it.

"Odel... About your question, I have the answer. Though, it might be a little off, it is should not be that far away from what is happening."

Everyone's attention was now gathered at him. He was the most knowledgeable here about zombies and such due to his hobbies and intelligence. He would surely have a good explanation for this.

"This should be what happened. Animals and insects if you put them on the same size as a human, they are far superior in strength and capabilities. No, not even comparing but animals and insects are still faster compared to how fast people normally move. It is not impossible that they will retain those characteristics after being infected and as such, it was more likely for them to chase after the large number of fleeing people. That is why we, who are left here in the middle of the infested area, did not encounter them. It is also possible that most of them died due to the characteristics of Mutagen."

"Then Gege, they are the same as the infected that came chasing after the feeling people?"

Mei asked making Mark nod before continuing.

"As for the evolved animals and insects, also the still normal ones, they should have fled already towards forests and mountains to seek shelter since the populated areas are already brimming with infected and danger. The huge cat we encountered back in the city hall maybe remained because of the fruit Mikio made. As the evolved animals and insects still had not turned or got bitten, they will surely become target for the infected."

Everyone was enlightened to his conjecture. It was really possible for it to happen.

Mei however seemed to have realized a pressing matter.

"Gege, the cockroaches you said... The wave is already coming back?"

"That's right."

Mark agreed with a serious expression.

"What is this wave thing you two are talking about?"

Melissa voiced in displeasure.

They were talking about the animals and insects but suddenly, these two talked about something incomprehensible to them like waves and stuff. Is there a high tide somewhere?

To her displeasure, Mark turned to her and asked.

"In the ocean, what happens to the wave after it hit the shore?"

Melissa was confused about the question. Not only her but also the others but she could only answer due to Mark's stare.

"It goes back to the ocean right?"

Melissa answered as it was the obvious answer.

"Then, what if the country is the ocean and the infected chasing after the survivors are the waves, what will happen after they hit the shore now?"

BOOM!

As if a thunder struck the minds of everyone inside the vehicle, their thoughts crumbled and their emotions shook violently. Just now, Mei asked if the wave was already coming back and Mark affirmed it. It was not hard for them to understand what was happening.

Looking at everyone's expressions, Mark sternly said.

"That is why we needed to hurry up and finish everything. Actually, I wanted to find a few more people but we don't have the time to look for them anymore. I don't know where to look for them either. That is why we should finish everything today or until tomorrow at most and leave this place."

No one disagreed to what Mark said. Everyone here was already briefed why there are very few infected compared to the actual population in this area. Considering the numbers that was missing, the number of infected going back should be overwhelming. That was not something their small group of theirs could handle. Not to mention that the only ones who could effectively fight the infected was Mark, Abbygale, Odelina, Laelaps and Emika.

While the others were slowly coping as they were being trained to fight, the very short time and experience they had was not enough.

This was a very serious situation for them now. Luckily, the only ones whose families they needed to find left were only Rollan's and Rosamie's. As for Sundra's family, they were out of town for vacation. She was left due to her work and would just follow for the holiday break that would never happen anymore. Furthermore, Mark already told them that they would pass by some houses of people he knew but was not sure if they were still there and if they did not find any clue about their whereabouts, they would not bother to look either.

While everyone was contemplating about the current circumstances, Mark took out something inside his backpack with a lot of care. Revealing the thing, everyone was fascinated and immediately forgot what they were currently thinking. What Mark took out was the jar containing the floating crystals. The scene was already amazing but the current glow the double terminated crystal was emitting further enhanced the fantastical scene.

Initially, Mark was kind of worried that they would become target of the infected after he brought these crystals away but when he saw that not all the infected back around his home was attracted to him who was carrying the crystal, he felt relieved. He concluded that the only ones that could feel the crystals were those who were exposed to its energy being emitted. Furthermore, after closing the door of the vehicle when they were being chased, he saw that the aggressiveness of the infected that had been affected by the crystal lessened making him think that thick armor and soundproofing of the vehicle sealed the energy the crystals were emitting.

"Gege, in the picture you showed us, it's not glowing right?"

"Yeah. I'm also confused with this. Also another crystal appeared but has a different color. It's also purplish but a little fainter."

Everyone looked at the crystals in the jar and immediately saw the odd one out of all the smaller crystal.

"Papa."

Abbygale called out while staring at the crystals.

"What is it?"

"The crystal from the huge cat. Same color."

Abbygale pointed at the faint colored crystal.

Actually, Mark also felt the color of the new marble sized crystal a little familiar but could not remember where he saw it. Now that his daughter mentioned it, he immediately took out the crystal from the huge cat that Mikio gave him before. He had been keeping in inside the small strap bag he had tightly covered inside a folded handkerchief. It was also the same for the strange looking seed.

Holding the crystal in his hand, he compared it with the marble sized crystal inside the jar. There, everyone could see that aside from the shape, everything looked similar. The color, the turbidity and even the feeling Mark could feel from the crystals was the same.

'Don't tell me this is what I think it is.'

Mark thought in his mind as the compared the two crystals. If he was not mistaken, then these crystals were the crystallization of Mutagen. Pretty much similar to the fruit Mikio could create using the Mutagen in the air when he was in the form of a huge tree.

This line of though made him think of several experiments. He also wanted to know if the double terminated crystal would continue of producing the original crystals yearly or would continue on producing the newer crystals, or maybe, both.

Mark's eyes suddenly landed on Janette who was fixatedly staring at the jar containing the crystals in his hands. The vividly colored crystals could affect the mind and the same circumstances also applied to the infected. In that case, what if he made Janette absorb one?

This line of thought of his seemed to be a bit dangerous but nevertheless, he had the urge to try no matter what.

While he was thinking all those things and everyone was looking at him with strange expressions, the group made their way towards their next destination, Barangay Queens Row Area A. This was where Rollan's and his family's house was located. It was also home for several people Mark wanted to locate if possible.

The sun started to rise and the warm sunlight started to dissipate the cold breeze of the night and illuminated the road Mark and his group was passing through. However, it seemed both grief and surprise was awaiting them in their destination. While the forgotten beetle however, was still playing dead while swaying on the floor of the moving vehicle.