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131 Escort Mission Proposal

 Day 5 - 7:45 AM - 4th Grade Building, Queens Row Elementary School, Queens Row Area A, Bacoor City, Cavite

Inside the classroom that was now converted into a briefing room among the soldiers, Mark sat unto one of the chairs surrounding the table at the center of the room. Together with him were Mei and Abbygale who did not want to separate from him while the other party was Captain Dela Rosa, the female soldier and two other soldiers that seemed to hold a good position in the rescue squad.

As for the other soldiers, they were dismissed and they all went back to their own duties while the other members of Mark's group were brought to another classroom to rest. For Mark's group, it was really good for them to have a breather despite how early it was due to the stress they suffered during the time they were setting up traps, fending off the infected and their vehicle being chased by thousands of infected. As for Laelaps, Mark gave her the duty of watching the scaredy oversized beetle to ensure that it would not escape though by the looks of it, the beetle had no intention to do so either. The huge beetle was quietly lying down beside Laelaps at the corner of the room while watching everyone else in the room.

"Now, can you tell what you soldiers need from me?"

Mark asked as he swept his gaze to the soldiers that sat around the same table.

Hearing his question, the squad captain seemed to feel relieved that Mark wanted to go straight to the point.

"Before everything, I'll introduce my subordinates first. This is Irine McCarran, this is Joey Cadunggan and this Alderick Renomeron."

Captain Dela Rosa pointed at the female soldier, the male soldier beside her right and the other male soldier to the left of the squad captain respectively.

Seeing that Captain Dela Rosa did not ask for Mei and Abbygale's names, it was obvious that the information about them had already been relayed to this squad.

"Actually, it's like this. As you probably know, our squad shouldn't be staying in this place at all. Our squad was dispatched to rescue a government botanist that was went on vacation leave and went home a week ago. Along the way, we are allowed to rescue as many survivors as we can to our capacity which was what we did. However, during the way back, we encountered an unknown decimating our ranks and failing our rescue operation."

The squad captain sighed and continued.

"We managed to escape along with the survivors we brought and the botanist we rescued but we lost a dozen of on my men and several more were severely injured to the point that they won't be able to fulfill their duties in the future as soldiers anymore. We still have enough man power to defend from normal and weaker Mutated Infected but we don't have the capability to fight anything stronger than those anymore. Due to that, we are stuck at this place."

"So, you want us to help and escort the remaining of your squad back to Bay City?"

Mark interjected.

"That's right."

Captain Dela Rosa nodded.

"You seemed to be putting too much trust to me and my group."

"Do you think I'm not skeptical to this? When we called for backup at the headquarters they said that they won't be able to send one in the short time period. The headquarters seems to lack manpower right now and I also understand since we lost several squads due to the unknowns appearing in the in several places. It is really fortunate that we managed to escape. When I asked for other alternatives from the HQ, the general suggested finding you and your group that are supposed to be roaming this area in search for people."

"So, it's the general that seemed to put that too much trust in huh?"

Mark frowned. It was good that there was someone trusting him this much but if he was going to throw troublesome things to him because of this trust, Mark rather not have that.

"It's as you said. As I said before, I'm also skeptical to this suggestion but upon seeing your group now, it's really a good thing for us to encounter you. There are several Mutators in your group am I correct? It that is the case, then escorting us is not that hard for your group. I also heard that your group plan on going to Bay City after your goals here is fulfilled."

Captain Dela Rosa said with expectation.

"You had just mentioned it. I'm searching for a few people and I can't leave without them."

"I know. In that case, feel free to make use of our men to search for those people. It will be faster that way right?"

Mark contemplated for a bit. It was true that it would be faster and it was also true that they planned to go to Bay City afterwards. Probably, it was Paula who informed them about it. Furthermore, it would be safer if they had soldiers in their company.

His eyes then dilated as his mind jolted for a bit. He then looked towards the female soldier that sat beside the squad captain and observed her face.

'Darn...'

Mark cursed in his mind.

When he thought of soldiers accompanying them on their journey, his mind jolted as the premonition he saw before in his dream appeared before his eyes. During one scene in his premonition, he saw the face of this woman but it was quite blurred as the person was someone he had not met yet. Now that he saw her face and linked her to his premonition, he knew now knew that his premonition was somehow linked with these people.

"Is there something wrong with my face?"

The Irene touched her face and asked. Seeing Mark staring at her intently, she could not help but feel embarrassed.

"Gege?"

Mei also asked. Although Mark was staring at Irene, she did not feel jealous but felt worried instead. It was because when she looked at Mark's eyes, she saw the same glint she saw back then in Firenze. It was that glint that pushed her to confront him and asked him what the matter was.

Hearing the voice of the two, Mark jolted back from his trance and shook his head.

"It's nothing, I just remembered something."

He then looked back to Captain Dela Rosa who looked baffled about his behavior.

"What will we get in exchange for escorting your squad?"

To his question, the squad captain did not seem to be surprised. After all, they were not forcing them but hiring their group.

"We already prepared for that. After we successfully arrive at Bay City, you and your group will be rewarded with weapons, ammunition and supply. The most important ones are the Free Pass and Bay City Citizenship."

Mark's eyes shot up as he heard some unfamiliar terms.

As if knowing what was in his mind once more, the female soldier that had already recovered from embarrassment interjected and explained.

"The Free Pass allows your group to go in and out of Bay City freely. In Bay City, the refugees are confined inside the protected zone and are not allowed to go out of the zone unless there are special circumstances. With the Free Pass, your group will be marked as 'Capable' and will be allowed to go in and out without any interruption from the soldiers and the government. The 'Capable' I'm taking about are being able to fight the infected effectively. Currently, there are only two groups in Bay City that are unaffiliated with the government or the military owned these Free Passes. Both groups have Evolvers in their members.

As for the citizenship, it will allow you and your group to own a house, private room or building in the Bay City. Those places still came with a price but at least, your group will be allowed to buy one as long as you have the capital. If you don't know, Bay City is separated into two settlements. One was for the refugees and soldiers while the other is where you can find the government officials and other people who have high standing or necessary expertise before the apocalypse came.

Furthermore, the Refugee Settlement is also divided into several parts with one being a housing project. With the Citizenship one of the privileges is that you can own a house or building there. That is if you don't want to live like the normal refugees that can only stay in their shared tents in the tent city in the Refugee Settlement."

"There's such distinction between people in Bay City?"

Mark asked with a frown.

"It can't be helped. The current government and the remains of the military can't accommodate everyone. In this case, the refugees will not slack either. The refugees can work at the settlement and if they do a very good job or earn some reputation, they can also be rewarded with citizenship. In that case, they could also work harder and buy a house for their own."

It was the Joey who replied to Mark's question.

That explanation of Joey made Mark understand. That policy was to make the refugees to not only rely on free rations they could get from the government. Not only that it would lighten the load of work the government had to do but would also push the refugees to a certain goal. It had always been a problem with the refugees in the past especially during disasters.

After contemplating for a bit and weighing the pros and cons of the deal, Mark spoke.

"Alright, I agree."

Mark decided to agree as the terms they gave was that hard to decline.

The soldiers also felt relieved and happy hearing him agree to their request. However before they could thank him, Mark continued.

"I have a few conditions though."

"Is the payment not enough?"

Alderick who was silent the whole time could not help but speak with the frown.

"It's not about the payment."

Mark shook his head.

"I want to be the one who will decide on what route we will take."

The soldiers were baffled with the unexpected condition.

"You want to be the leader for the whole way?"

Captain Dela Rosa asked.

"I don't want to lead. You're men will follow your orders and my group will follow mine. What I mean is just that. I will choose what route we will take. Which street to take, which road to pass through, which bridge to cross. Something around those."

"Why? It's kind of strange for you to ask a condition like that."

Irene asked with a very confused expression.

"I have my reasons but I can't tell you all. In any case, my group will bring your squad back to Bay City without fail as long as I will choose the route."

Mark insisted.

The four soldiers discussed it for a minute or two. Considering the situation, his condition was not really overboard. Even though they were confused as to the reason why...

"Alright, we agree with your terms."

Captain Dela Rosa spoke as he stood and stretched his hand towards Mark over the table wanting to shake his hand. As they had come into an agreement, Mark had no reason to decline the outstretched hand so he shook it.

"Anyway, you said that you will help find the people we're looking for, right?"

Mark asked.

"That's right."

Captain Dela Rosa nodded.

"Then in that case, I'll give you several names and see if you can find them among the refugees here inside the school."

Mark took out his small notebook and wrote the names of people he planned to look for along with Rosamie's brother. After tearing the page of notebook that Mark wrote the names on, he passed the torn page to the squad Captain.

After receiving the torn page of notebook, Captain Dela Rosa started to read the names with his eyes when his eyes dilated.

"Mark, this Chervil Sandoval..."

"Why, is something wrong?"

Mark asked with confusion.

"The botanist we were dispatched to rescue has the same name."

Hearing that, Mark found it inconceivable. It was because it was the name of Rosamie's brother.

"Can you bring us to him?"

"It's fine."

The squad captain agreed.

Mark then turned to Mei.

"Mei'er, go with Gale and call Mrs. Rosamie, Emika and Mikio. Let's see if this botanist is the one they are looking for."

"Yes."

Mei replied and looked at Abbygale.

"Gale, let's go."

Mei and Abbygale held hands together as they made their way out of the room.

"You're lucky to have a wife and daughter like them."

Seeing the two beautiful girls go out, Irene could not help but tell that to Mark. However, his reply choked not only her but the other three men with them.

"I don't even have a girlfriend yet, not to mention a wife."

Mark shrugged his shoulders making the Joey and Alderick boil with jealousy.

Both of them were single men and their looks were not bad either. Alderick was even pursuing Irene for some time now. The two single men seeing how intimate Mark was to the beautiful girl that always stuck beside him, they could not help but feel that this guy's ancestors might have done something that was rewarded by the heavens and felt a bit jealous. It was just their training as military stopped them from having impure thoughts. Nevertheless, the beautiful girl Mark was intimate with was actually not his wife and not his girlfriend either.

In that case, what would happen if the two enter into a relationship...

Just how intimate could they get?

The soldiers could not help but ponder. They did not notice that Mark was looking at them like they were idiots and started to step back thinking that it might be contagious.