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145 A Fateful Meeting

 Day 5 - 12:13 PM - Silver St., Camella Springville North, Molino III, Bacoor City, Cavite

The sun was high up as it was just several minutes past noon but the temperature was not too hot. Strange enough, the number of infected in the area was small. There might be different reasons for this but it worked well to the advantage of everyone here. At this moment, Mark together with Abbygale and Laelaps stood in front of the parents of the boy weakly struggling on his side.

While the husband and wife who seemed to be called Harvey and Monique respectively were arguing, Mark watched them with bewilderment. Not wanting to watch their drama, Mark decided to speak.

"Ahem, can you two continue that later? Not only we're wasting time here but the voices of you two will alert the infected if there were some hiding around."

Hearing that, the two stopped but the husband continued to look at Mark with caution while the wife had her eyes look at her son before turning to Mark with a bewildered gaze. Strange enough, when the husband was about to speak, the wife stopped him and stepped forward. It seemed that the wife wanted to handle things.

On the other hand, Mark sighed as he watched the careful actions of the others. Was he really that scary? He came here to return their son who surely escaped but why were they so cautious?

Surprisingly, it seemed that the woman saw through his actions.

"You're all waiting for us am I right?"

Monique spoke with confidence though Mark did not know where her confidence was coming from. Still, since she asked, Mark decided to honestly answer.

"We do."

"Why?"

Harvey interjected with bewilderment. Then, he saw Monique glaring at him making him step back. As Harvey and the others behind were cautious towards the person holding her son, it would not be good to make them speak. What if due to their nervousness, they spoke something unnecessary? They were here to look for her escaped son and not to seek death.

Seemingly reading the actions of the woman, Mark nodded. In this group, she was the most rational even though she was the most worried about her own son.

However, before Monique could speak again, Mark started to step forward making the crowd with the exception of Monique, be on guard.

"Monique, get behind me."

Harvey spoke once more just to receive another glare from his wife.

"Shut up."

Monique spoke and then, opposite to what the others did, she started to walk forward.

Soon, Mark and Monique were facing each other.

"Here."

Mark handed the boy without hesitation under the bewildered gazes of everyone. The mother hurriedly took the weakened boy into her embrace. The boy struggled and even his claws partly dug into the arm of his mother. The mother did not seem to mind the pain. She was just happy to get her son back. She thought that they would lose him forever.

"How did you know? And why?"

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Monique looked up to Mark and asked.

"Just a hunch. As for why, you can say that I own that boy a little."

Mark replied. Of course he could not tell her that he could make out the similarities of their mental fluctuation to the boy which allowed him to know that they were the boy's parents. As for owing the boy, it was not wrong. If the boy was not around, the Muscled Infected would surely escape and there would be no one to distract the enemy while they made their way to a good place to snipe the infected.

"Owe?"

Monique stared at him with bewilderment. Her son had already turned like this, an uncontrolled savage monster. How could this man owe his son?

It was then that Mark spoke.

"Are you sure that you're keeping him even with that condition? He might be weak now but once he's taken over by his mutation, he can't be saved anymore. When that happens, all of you will die."

Hearing that, he pupils of Monique shrunk. Though she did not know if what Mark said was true or not, it was not impossible for that to happen.

Seeing that his wife and the man were properly conversing, Harvey finally relaxed. The man in front of them felt somewhat eerie and dangerous but to think that he was just here to return their missing son. He felt ashamed but he decided to step forward to his wife's side. He then took a handkerchief from his pocket and gently removed the claws that dug into his wife's arm and wiped the blood off from her skin.

After the claws and the blood were taken off, the small scratch marks that were visible started to close up and soon vanished. With the wounds gone, the only thing left was her smooth skin.

Seeing the scene in front of him, Mark did not look surprised. He was not the only person who had regenerative abilities. Odelina's children also had it. The only difference was that his ability to regenerate his wounds was more absurd. As for this woman, her ability should be a bit higher than Odelina's children but way below him.

"You don't seem to be surprised."

Monique looked at Mark with askance.

"I've seen a lot if you ask me. Well, you should think about what I said first."

Mark shrugged his shoulders. There was no reason for him to show his hands to strangers.

"I don't know if what you are saying is true but..."

Monique replied as she looked at her struggling son with sadness.

"About one hour or two, that boy will start killing you all."

Mark said without emotions. He decided to inform them but of course, that resulted to the remorse of the woman intensifying.

"Is what you said true?"

With sadness apparent in his eyes, Harvey asked which Mark nodded to.

At that moment, Monique realized something and she suddenly turned towards Mark.

"Wait. You said that my son can't be saved anymore if he fully mutated. It means that there is a way to save my son, right?!"

Monique almost lunged towards Mark which made him step back. Harvey hurriedly pulled his wife from behind.

"Monique calm down. Calm down!"

Mark looked at Harvey with sympathy. Having a wife like this with intelligence but extremely sharp mood swings, his situation would probably be harder than surviving alone in this apocalypse.

"But!-"

Monique was about to retort her husband but she was interrupted.

BANG!!!

The men together with Monique and Harvey open fired towards the incoming infected. The infected were coming from the direction were their vehicle came from. The infected probably lagged behind but since they stopped here, the infected managed to catch up.

"Harvey! Monique! Hurry up!"

One of the men bellowed as he shot his revolver pistol.

Seeing what was happening Monique turned towards Mark with hurry but he had already stepped several steps back calling for Abbygale and Laelaps to come over.

"Wait! You know how to save my son right?"

Monique shouted.

"This is not a good place to discuss that. Follow this dog. There's a survivor settlement not far from here managed by the military and the local government officials."

Mark replied.

Hearing that there was a survivor settlement nearby, not only Harvey but also the other people with them looked elated. However, why the dog?

"But my son..."

Monique still wanted to plead but Mark shut her down.

"Just bear with your son for now. There's still more or less an hour or two before he fully mutates. As I said, hurry and follow this dog."

Mark said to Monique before turning to Laelaps.

"Laelaps, full form!"

With that cue, the golden dog inflated back to her three meter size under the shocked faces of everyone. Mark then helped Abbygale up her back but he did not ride on her back.

He then turned towards everyone behind who was staring at the three meter tall dog with their mouths agape.

"What are you all staring like that for? Are you all following or not?"

Mark felt exasperated. With everything that happened after the apocalypse, Mark had seen an over twenty meter tall tree, a house cat as large as a fully grown lion, several kinds of strange mutated infected and several kinds of Mutators. What was wrong with a three meter tall dog for everyone to have the same reaction?

If the people behind knew what he was thinking, they would surely say that he was the weird one.

After hearing his shout, the group below scurried towards their van. Monique tightly hugged her son to prevent him from flailing around. Harvey jumped into the driver's seat and started to drive the vehicle after everyone came aboard. Everyone was still shocked by the appearance of the three meter golden dog but they could only trust this stranger they met. He had an eerie and dangerous vibe but it seemed that he was not bad after all.

While watching their actions, Mark noticed something. The van was big and it had three passenger entrances. Still, with the exception of the husband and wife that went to the front seats, all the others went into the back entrance as if they were avoiding the seats directly behind the front seats. It was strange because it was unlikely not only for this group but for everyone to put baggage in the middle seats of the vehicle. It just meant that they were carrying something that was enough for those capable people to avoid. Nevertheless, it was not the time to mull about those things.

"Papa, you're not coming?"

Abbygale asked.

"Not yet. I have to get something first. You ride there on Laelaps and get back to the settlement. Is that clear?"

"But, Papa..."

"It's fine. I'll follow immediately. Papa is strong right?"

"Um!"

Abbygale finally consented.

"Laelaps, you lead this people to the settlement safely."

"RARF!"

Laelaps replied with a deafening bark.

It was now time to leave. More infected were alerted because of the gunshots and were now hurrying towards this place. With Mark's order, Laelaps started to run leading the van away towards the settlement with Abbygale waving towards her Papa.

The people in the van seemed to be bewildered why Mark stayed behind but since Mark already instructed them, they drove following Laelaps.

Mark waved at Abbygale for a bit before jumping towards the way where they came from. Actually, it was a shorter route if Laelaps used the same route they took to get here but the street here between Camella Springville North and Queens Row Area A was blocked by a permanently closed gate that only allowed people to pass by and not vehicles.

He stopped at one of the roofs and grabbed the radio on his waist. He should inform the others about Laelaps and Abbygale returning or they might be battered with holes if they return like that. After all, who would not get scared to see a three meter dog running towards the settlement? He immediately called unto Mei and informed her of what happened and where he was right now. While on the radio, Mark could hear Mei talking to Odelina. After saying goodbye, he went to start his current business.

As he was now alone, it would be easier for him to do some disgusting work. He was familiar with the area since this was the place where he spent more than fourteen school years of his life and thus, he was familiar where the grocery stores were located. Finding the nearest one that seemed to be ransacked already, he tried to find some jars no matter it were plastic or glass.

After eliminating several infected, he finally found an empty plastic jar used for mint candies. He brought the jar and returned to the roof where the Muscled Infected had fallen.

Then, using a spoon, he scooped that brain matter that splattered on the roof and even scooped the remaining brain matter and fluid in the Muscled Infected's skull. This was really a disgusting work. If not for the need and thirst for knowledge about the infected, he would not bring this away. If there was a chance, he would try to experiment with it in the future.

Mark was not sure whether it was just the brain that was important but he just took reference to what Janette did before. Back at Firenze, despite the ability of the gangster having superhuman strength in his arms, Janette only ate the brain and nothing else and yet, she seemed to have gained the same strength in her arms now. Still, he would not make Janette consume this brain. She was his very precious specimen. He did not want to turn her into a muscle-hypertrophic monster either.

After storing everything he could recover from the Muscle Infected's brain matter and brain juice, he closed the jar and decided to leave. He was really not interested with the headless macho body on the roof and also felt disgusted to carry it around.

Soon he went back to the high school area and saw that the battle was over and the soldiers were already cleaning up. However, he did not stop by and alert the cleaning soldiers and hurriedly made his way towards the elementary school to meet up with Abbygale and Laelaps by jumping unto the roofs of the classrooms and buildings. Considering the distance and speed of the travel, they should have arrived already.

He soon arrived and it seemed that they were safely led inside. The van was already parked beside their vehicle but the people had not left he vehicle yet. It seemed that they were waiting for him. With them was not only Abbygale and Laelaps but also Mei, Odelina and for some reason, Captain Dela Rosa.

'What did he want now?'

Mark mused as he jumped off the roof of the building, grabbing onto the railings on the second floor and jumped down to the ground.