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132 Rollans Dillema

 Day 5 - 8:02 AM - 4th Grade Building 2nd Floor, Queens Row Elementary School, Queens Row Area A, Bacoor City, Cavite

After the conclusion of their meeting with Mark, Captain Dela Rosa sent Master Sergeant Joey Cadunggan to search for the people on the list Mark gave them. At this moment, Captain Dela Rosa and Staff Sergeant Irine McCarran were leading Mark and the three members of the Sakurano Family towards the dwelling of the botanist, Chervil Sandoval.

Rosamie with her children were following behind Mark and the two soldiers with glee as they confirmed to Mark that Rosamie's younger brother was indeed a botanist. There was no doubt that this botanist was the younger brother she was looking for.

"Nee~ Scary Uncle. It's really good that we came with you isn't it? We found Oji without any trouble."

Emika suddenly said while after they climb up the stairs.

To her words, Mark nodded.

"I won't deny that."

"This Scary Uncle is not humble at all."

"Yeah I'm not. So stop talking."

"Booo~!"

Hearing the exchange of the two, the two soldiers leading them could not help but smile bitterly. Despite the difference in age of Mark and Emika, the two were talking to each other like close friends. Both will try to reprimand, joke and tease each other but none of them would get angry to the other at all. Even though Mark had been stopping Emika from talking several times already, the two of them did not stop their exchange at all until now.

On the other hand, Rosamie agreed with what Emika had just said. If they decided against joining Mark's group, they would probably be looking for her brother blindly without knowing where to find him. His address after all was actually further away from this place. If not for following Mark and his group, they might not have found this place at all. After all, they ended up in this place after finding their way to Rollan's house and encountering his partner there.

Reaching the endmost room to the right corridor, Captain Dela Rosa knocked on the door.

"Wait a minute!"

A male voice was heard and soon after, the door opened revealing a man who had resemblance to Rosamie. He looked haggard and it seemed to compliment with the aura of a researcher he was exuding. His age was around a year younger than Mark as it looked like.

"Captain, Staff Sergeant, do you need something?"

Chervil asked as he knew that there were no plans for the military to leave yet and escort him away once more. However, when his eyes fell unto Rosamie that stood behind the two soldiers, his eyes widened in disbelief and glee.

"Big Sis!"

Chervil exclaimed.

"Chervil... Rosamie smiled with tears at the corner of her eyes."

After the two soldiers opened the path between the two, the siblings hugged each other.

Watching the reunion by the side, Mark started to walk away. There was no need for him to interrupt this family from their dramatic reunion.

"Scary Uncle. Where are you going?"

Mark tried to slip away without anyone noticing but it seems that he could not escape the senses of the two children.

"I have no business here so I'll be going for a walk."

"But..."

"Just spend your time with your family alright?"

Mark patted the green flowered hair of Emika and Mikio's head with both hands.

"Yes."

The two children smiled and nodded. The two turned around and joined the embrace of their mother and uncle.

Chervil looked stunned seeing the appearance of his niece and nephew but it just took him a second to recover and happily embraced the children of his older sister. Though it seemed that he had some questions in his mind, it looked like what matters the most to him were the smiling faces of the two children upon seeing him.

As Mark walked away, Captain Dela Rosa sent Irene to accompany him and guide him around the settlement while they wait for the results from Joey who was sent to search for Mark's friends.

***

Inside the room being used as dwelling by Nikky and her group, Dorothy, Rollan's younger cousin was left alone. It was fine since the place was the same building being used by the faction led by the Local Government Officials. No one would try to loiter around this place without permission.

"Dorothy, come, I'll show you something."

A familiar woman approached the ten year old Dorothy inside their dwelling. Holding the girl's hand, the woman brought her out of the place.

"Where are we going?"

Dorothy asked without suspecting the familiar woman.

"Don't say anything. It's a surprise."

***

Leaving the family reunion, Mark decided to walk around the school premises. This place was where graduated his primary school years after all. After he graduated, aside from times he compulsory brought here to vote during elections, he had never stepped into this school to explore the place. After he graduated, there were a lot of changes to the school, both good and bad. It was good that more classrooms and buildings were built but the school looked cramped and out of proportion.

Mark decided not to bring anyone as he looked around especially Mei since she would just gather around unnecessary attention. As for Abbygale, the scene of suffering refugees was not good for a child like her to see. For the others, with the threat of the faction Dominador led could bring, it was better for them to stay at the building where the military was based. If he was alone, he could handle himself better and could freely escape if something might get out of hand.

"I told you that I want to be alone right?"

Irene however, who was sent to guide him around just would not go away as it the order she received from her superior.

"I received my orders. I can't disobey that."

Staff Sergeant Irene McCarren nonchalantly replied while following behind him like a guard.

"Seriously. I know that immoral soldiers are the worst but this is what is annoying about the upright ones."

Mark muttered.

"What's wrong with that? It's one of our duties to follow orders of the higher ups."

"Every order?"

Mark stopped walking and looked at her.

"Not all orders. Only orders that won't go against my morals."

Irene said confidently puffing out her chest.

"Seriously, you're a woman so don't do gestures like that. It doesn't matter to me but that will be provoking to others. I'm advising you."

Mark said as he glanced at her before turned around and continued walking.

Understanding the meaning of his nonchalant words, Irene felt dejected with her face red in embarrassment. She was a 'tough chick' in her squad but somehow, she could not stand the eyes of this guy that seemed to penetrate into her mind. However, she did not feel repulsive to those eyes but rather, she felt more interested. Recovering from her embarrassment, she immediately caught up to him.

"You really won't leave me alone, will you?"

Mark harrumphed.

"I won't, I'm just following orders."

With that, Mark decided to ignore her as he walked around the compound.

While walking around, Mark saw the dwellings of the refugees and their current state. Though the refugees were not in a bad situation yet, it seemed that it would not take long and these people would become desperate. Not only the children but the adults too were showing symptoms of malnutrition. Furthermore, the living spaces were far from sanitary. The smell was unbearable for Mark whose senses were enhanced by his Evolution. If not for his strong resilience, he would probably flee away from this place already.

Thinking that his friends could be living in this kind of place, Mark shook his head. It was really pitiful.

With the food and supplies they brought from the mall, they could still last for about a week despite the number of people in his group. What would happen afterwards was not much of a concern since they had the capability to search for food themselves as Mutators and Evolvers. Their situation was in complete contrast against the situation of the normal people.

"Mark?"

Someone called him as he approached a certain room.

It was not accidental. Mark was really going to this part of the refugee building as he detected some familiar emotional fluctuations.

The person who called upon Mark was a man around a year younger than him. His face was above average though it could not be said that he was handsome. However, his face was now stained with grime and the clothes he was wearing seemed like something that had not been washed for several weeks already.

Mark fully recognized this person. He was one of the guys closest to Mark and Rollan and was a part of Mark's circle of friends from high school. Though the communication between them had lessened after graduating from high school, it was no doubt that he was a close friend of his. What Mark did not expect was to find him in this place though since his house was quite away from here.

Thinking about it, Mark though that it was possible. He probably fled here after the infected reached their place.

"Mark! It's really you!"

The man approached Mark who was just looking at him with a smile. Not able to stop his emotions, he held Mark's shoulders and looked at his face.

"Seriously Arvie, you don't have to hold my shoulders like that. You're hands are dirty."

Mark said with contempt but it was obvious that he was teasing the man in front of him.

Hearing what Mark said, the man frowned before stretching his hand towards Mark's face trying to smear the dirt on his face. Mark of course dodged.

"Don't dodge dammit. It's been long since we saw each other and you're looking at me like that. You already learned how to look down on people huh!"

Arvie spoke with an aggrieved tone but his mouth had a bright smile hung in his face.

Looking at two full grown men chasing each other like children trying to smear dirt on one another, Irene was speechless.

"Stop it already will you."

Mark bellowed.

Knowing that he probable reached the limit of Mark's temper Arvie finally stopped. The two men bear hugged each other. Mark did not really mind Arvie's dirty appearance. He just could not help but try to get back from all the teasing he received years before from this guy.

"What are you doing here?"

Arvie asked.

"Well, some things happened and I'm here with my group. Anyways, how are you faring. I heard that you already married."

"Well, yeah. You didn't come though."

"It was already late when I heard about it from Rollan. By the way, I came here with him."

"You came here with Rollan? Really?"

The two was about to continue their conversation when they saw the person in question walking anxiously while turning his head and gaze here and there as it he was looking for something.

"Rollan!"

Arvie called out with glee.

Seeing Arvie, Rollan looked stunned but after he saw at Mark, he somehow looked like he saw the answer to his prayers.

While looking at Rollan, Mark was frowning. His mental state was quite erratic as if he was worrying about something. Not waiting for Arvie to speak again Mark approached Rollan.

"Is something wrong?"

"Dorothy is missing."

Rollan replied with worried expression. He had already lost most of his family with only his younger brother and younger cousin remaining. He was too worried for his remaining family to be missing at this period of time.

"Dorothy... Your cousin?"

"Yeah. She should be there where Nikky and her friends are staying but when we went there, she was gone."

Hearing that, not only Mark frowned but also Irene and Arvie. Arvie knew that it was not the right time to catch up.

"By what you said, that Dorothy should be the girl with Ms. Faja group right?"

Irene interjected with a question.

Seeing the female soldier, Rollan was surprised for a bit but nodded.

"That's right."

"All right, I'll be going. I'll relay this to my squad and mobilize them to help searching for her."

Irene said with serious expression.

"There's more to this right?"

Mark asked seeing her expression.

"I don't know if this is connected but there had been reports of women and children disappearing before. The main suspects we had been Dominador's men but we don't have sufficient evidence."

"Dominador's men right?"

Mark propped up his chin. He then turned to everyone.

"Arvie, is there anyone with you right now? Family or relatives?"

"My wife and Jason. The others were gone."

Arvie looked dejected.

"Jason is here too? Where is he?"

Mark was surprised. It was because he could not detect Jason, who was Arvie's younger brother, around.

"That guy went out with his own team earlier. Who knows what happened, he became stronger after he went berserk when our family was slaughtered by the infected."

"I see."

Mark then turned to Irene.

"Ms. McCarren, there's no need to move your squad. I'll just request you to bring this friend of mine and his wife into your quarters."

"But."

"It'll be more efficient if I'll be the one doing the search."

Irene wanted to deny him but seeing the look in his eyes, she could only nod.

Seeing the staff sergeant agree, Mark turned to Rollan.

"Rollan, meet up with Nikky and her group. I'll go and search for your cousin."

"Can you really find her?"

Rollan asked worriedly.

"Don't underestimate me. We have our first lead so there is a place to start the search."

With that, Rollan saw Mark's eyes glow with a faint red color.

"Alright, be careful."

Rollan did not know how Mark intended to look for Dorothy but knowing his friend's current capabilities, he decided to trust him with this.

Mark nodded to everyone and started to move.

As time was of essence, he did not hold back. Activating his adrenaline, he jumped over the walls and roofs like a ninja under everyone's bulging eyes. Not only Arvie and Irene, even the by-standers and refugees that saw him were shocked. After all, every jumped he made was just a few inches below three meters. I was not a jump that a normal human could do.

Jumping over the structures built around the school premises one after another, Mark moved towards the Eastern side of the school.