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141 The Short Calm Before Another Storm

 Day 5 - 10:48 AM - Parking Area, Queens Row Elementary School, Queens Row Area A, Bacoor City, Cavite

The sudden news sparked a commotion among the people around while Captain Dela Rosa was reading the report passed to him by his subordinate. A tight frown could be seen on the squad captain's forehead as he read further through the report. It was already surprising to hear about another large group of people establishing their own settlement but to receive a request for assistance showed that the situation was not ideal in any way. The most pressing question however...

Captain Dela Rosa turned towards his subordinates.

"Who knows where this Firenze is?"

However, none of the soldiers responded to his question and even looked towards the others waiting for an answer. Some even turned towards the Ma'am Kat, the Barangay Chairwoman who was a local and the Barangay Police with her but it seemed that they had no idea either.

PAK!

Mark slapped his forehead as he looked at these people. Nevertheless, it was not surprising. These soldiers were not from this area in the first place. They might know about the main routes but probably not some remote subdivision. It goes the same for the barangay chairwoman since it was unlikely for her to go on a place out of her jurisdiction. As for the others, it could also be understood. Firenze was located at the innermost section of clusters of several private subdivisions. Furthermore, not everyone could enter that cluster without knowing anyone from the inside.

His action immediately caught the attention of Captain Dela Rosa and Irene who was just in front and beside him.

"Do you know where that place is?"

Irene asked.

Looking at the two, Mark replied.

"It's a private townhouse subdivision in Imus, Cavite. It's about more than a dozen kilometers from here following the roads. It's not surprising that all of hadn't heard about the place since it's a new subdivision and not really a well-known one."

"I see. No wonder."

Captain Dela Rosa propped his chin with his hand.

"Anyway, what happened? Did the settlement there fell already?"

Mark suddenly asked.

"You know that there was a settlement there?"

"Well, we do. We arrived there the other day escorting Congresswoman Lanie Villa and Police Chief Mallari along with a number of survivors. The settlement was established by a Mutator within the police. We left that place yesterday noon though. Hmmm... You said, 'was'... Then Firenze was overwhelmed by the infected already."

Mark explained while coming into a realization.

"Yes, the settlement there had already fallen. It seems that they had been attacked by thousands of infected along with gigantic insects. There were also a large number of infected animals within the horde."

Captain Dela Rosa looked stern as he summarized the contents of the report.

"You said that your group escorted Congresswoman Villa there?"

Irene suddenly asked Mark.

"Well yeah. What of it?"

"I'm just surprised you did that."

"I'm paid to do so and it's only to escort them to that place. It they requested to accompany our group all the way here, I won't agree. I'm searching for people and bringing a large group of people here in there is just attracting for unnecessary trouble."

Mark shrugged his shoulders.

"Captain, what are we going to do?"

Irene then turned to Captain Dela Rosa and asked.

"This is not a good place to discuss that."

Captain Dela Rosa did not dare to blindly decide and they needed to conduct a meeting for this.

"By the way, where are the survivors from that place now?"

Mark curiously asked.

Captain Dela Rosa glanced at the report on his hand and replied.

"It said that they are at Citta Italia now."

Hearing that, Mark nodded.

It was reasonable for them to stop by that area. As they left the gates of that place closed, it was unlikely for it to be infested by the infected. Nevertheless, it was just a temporary stop. The wave of infected was already coming back and it would not take long to reach that place since Firenze was not that far from Citta Italia.

"Then, it's better for you and your soldiers to decide what to do as soon as possible. Also, is there any results to the people I asked for?"

As Mark asked his question, Captain Dela Rosa turned to Alderick.

"Where's Joey?"

"Sir, I think he's still going around searching. Before we gathered here, I saw him and he said that the search became harder because of the gunshots. The refugees scurried around and closed the doors of the classrooms they were using. But he said that he already found two people along with their families. They were already escorted to our building."

"I see."

Captain Dela Rosa then turned to Mark.

"You heard him. Since the search isn't finished yet, I'll just inform you when it's done. You should also check if he found the right people. In any case, we must not delay things so we have to get going."

"Okay. By the way, I'm keeping the girl alright?"

Hearing that, the squad captain nodded.

"You can do what you want as long as it won't be something against morals or we will be the ones to stop you."

"But, experimenting on a person is already against morals right?"

"You..."

Captain Dela Rosa felt stifled as he could not find anything to refute that. Luckily, Irene came to back him up.

"It might be against morals but it's not like there's any other choice. Most of all, you managed to save her."

"Alright, alright. You all should go now."

Mark started to shoo them away to Irene's displeasure. But it was not like they had a reason to linger either.

"Ma'am Katherine, what are your plans?"

Captain Dela Rosa approached the Barangay Chairwoman and asked.

"I'll tell my husband about it first and then we'll catch up with your meeting. Is that fine?"

Chairwoman Katherine replied.

"It's fine. Just please, don't take too much time."

Captain Dela Rosa then turned to Mark.

"Won't you go together with us?"

"I still have things to do here so all of you better go already."

With that, the soldiers and the others finally dispersed leaving the people, who were initially here in the first place, the two soldiers that were guarding the parking area, Mark, Emika and Mara. It was given that Laelaps and the beetle were also here but the two were not really people.

"Then you Mara, what do you want to do?"

"I..."

"Well, it's given that Rollan, Nikky and Dorothy will be going with us. Since that will happen, your group will disband in case that you and the other two won't go. So I'm giving you a choice now. You can come with us and join our group or not."

Mara looked at Mark surprised.

"Why?"

"Hmm... Actually, I'm a little awed to how much you tried just to be with your sister despite the fact that she's not the sister you used to know. So, if you join us, then, I'll give the task of taking care of Janet to you since we can't really chain her now. Also Odelina, the person who was taking care of Janette already have a handful of work so it's good to take that task from her. Well, actually, I'm also interested to what your intimate interaction with your infected sister would end up."

Mark said while crossing his arms.

"So what do you think?"

"Uhmmm... Can I ask my friends about this first?"

Mara was delighted about Mark's proposition. However, she wanted to ask the opinion of her friends first. She had already betrayed them and did not want to commit something that could be interpreted as such.

"Well, if you say so. Actually, if you immediately accepted it, I'll probably give you a hard time even if you join us so it's good that you didn't."

Hearing that, Mara's back started to feel cold. It was good that she stuck to her conscience or else...

"Just wait for us then and let's return together. Your group should be in the military building right now."

"They should be. I saw them hurrying back earlier."

Mara nodded.

Mark then went into the vehicle and searched for the bag where Odelina stored the change of clothes for Odette. He intended to borrow some clothes for the unconscious girl. As he could not just leave this girl, he would carry her back to the military quarters. Her condition was already stable anyway. Aside from her fever, there were no other things to worry about.

Soon, he changed her clothes and lifted the girl with his left arm. He made her head lay on his shoulder and her arms around his neck. With his free hand, he grabbed Janette's arm and pulled her along out of the vehicle.

"Mara, help me bring your sister back."

"Is it fine?"

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"Just pull her by her arm or hand."

Without hesitation, Mara grabbed unto Janette's left hand. It seemed that she was really not bothered at all by the fact that her sister was already and infected.

"Emika, let's go. Your mother should be worried now."

"Hai~! Oh, Scary Uncle, how about this guy?"

Emika pointed at Dominador's body.

Mark slapped his forehead. He should have made the soldiers bring it away with them since he was going to trade it anyway. He was surely not going to feed this guy to Janette. As he was thinking that, Mark froze. Janette seemed to be not reacting by the fact that there was a dead Mutator near her.

"Emika, can you open a hole on the vines covering his body? A small one is fine. After making opening the hole, close it immediately alright?"

Emika was confused by his request but still did it. He made an opening between the vines large enough to see Dominador's closed eyes.

Janette suddenly jolted. She hurriedly looked around but it seemed that the cause of that jolt suddenly vanished.

Seeing that, Mark realized that Janette can locate dead bodies of Mutators. However, Dominador's body was currently sealed inside the cocoon made of vines that was part of Emika's hair. It seemed that it was blocking Janette from sensing the dead body for some unknown reason.

Emika also saw that and realized what the Scary Uncle wanted to do. Because of that, she made the cocoon of vines even tighter but was not enough to crush Dominador's body inside.

"Laelaps, help Emika carry that. We're going."

"Rarf!"

Laelaps energetically responded to his order.

Soon the group returned to the classroom where Mei and the others were waiting. Like usual, Mei was already waiting before he could be in their sight. She approached wanting a hug but seeing that he was carrying a little girl, Mei hesitated. However, Mark pulled her close with his open arm and gave her a light hug as she wanted.

Seeing that, Arvie who was also inside the classroom was slack jawed. During the time he entered this room, he was observing the other people inside since he knew none of them. Still, the welcome was pleasant. Even though he and his wife looked dirty compared to these people who looked too clean as if they had just taken a bath earlier, it seemed that these people were not even bothered by it. Well, the couple still felt awkward though.

The most noticeable within the group was the beautiful girl who was only staring out of the window without speaking. She was really beautiful that even his wife was in awe. He never ever thought that this beautiful girl actually had a relationship with Mark!

Even Nikky and the other two members of her group who were also inside the classroom conversing with Arvie looked surprise because of the scene.

On the other hand, Odelina and the others started to question him about the girl he was carrying. First, he told Odelina about the clothes he borrowed but the loyal servant of course had no issue with it. It was then that he started to tell them what happened from the start after Rollan informed him about Dorothy's disappearance.

There were various emotions that rose within the crowd but the most apparent one was the little cat girl.

"Uuuhh. Papa, you didn't bring me with you."

Abbygale started to sulk.

Hearing the little girl call Mark 'Papa' choked Arvie and Nikky even more making them look at Rollan with askance. The latter however just shrugged his shoulders to it.

After appeasing the sulking Abbygale, Mark then continued his story towards to what happened to the girl but hid the fact about his experiment. Not everything should be told to everyone just like that. He made a lie about the girl managing to survive by becoming an Evolver. It was not that hard to accept that as he also evolved in the same manner. He was on the verge of death that time after fighting the berserk Odelina when he evolved.

The story about the girl was about to finish when they started to hear gunshots coming from the outside. The refugees that had just began to calm down due to the incident with Dominador and his men were screaming and running away once more.

"Can't I get even a little rest?"

Mark sighed.