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217 Nicoles Fun Predicament, A Funny Situation Once in a While

 Day 29 - 8:59 AM - Mountain Base, Mount Malabito, General Nakar, Quezon

Nicole entered the workshop with the strange looking animal between her arms. The first thing she saw however was not Mark but Hallie whose face was flushed red and was writhing in pain while she laid on the blanket to the side of the workshop. Seeing her friend's state, she panicked and almost let go of the animal in her hand. Fortunately, she heard Mark's voice calming her down a bit.

"She's fine. Remember Jollene back then? It's the same situation."

When Nicole looked at Mark, she saw him sitting in front of the table while inspecting the state of his newly crafted sword. The sword looked more like a crystal than a metal or glass sword and it had ornamental design that made it look like something that princesses in fantasy stories would use. The appearance made it look like a toy in most people's perspective but right now, Mark took a two-by-two block of wood and hacked the sword towards it.

The block of wood was splendidly split into two making him nod in satisfaction.

Nicole shook her head removing herself from the trance from the sword and spoke.

"You said that Hallie's the same as Jollene that time. How? I mean, Jollene almost died back then and if I recall correctly, that Sherwin had the same experience before they...'Evolved' wasn't it? Then why is Hallie..."

She lowered her body and touched Hallie's forehead. It was burning with high fever that it almost made it look like that it was going to be fatal. What Mark said had really confused her since there was no danger here for this to happen.

'Wait... Danger...'

Nicole, like an unoiled gear, turned her head towards Mark. There was no danger in this place except for something and that was called Mark.

"Seriously, don't look at me like that." Mark returned a nonchalant look at Nicole. "Hallie's being annoying but I didn't do anything bad to her alright. Well, aside from forcing her Evolution."

Mark wanted some peace and quiet but Hallie was being too annoying. This way, she would shut up for a while and Evolve at the same time. It was hitting two birds with one [Physical Crystal]. Furthermore, it would not be detrimental to Hallie. She would gain enhancement in physical aspects after all. He was not worried at all about the randomness of the abilities she might be able to acquire as it was always a positive ability with the help of the crystals.

Still, it felt like drawing an expensive gacha in the mall. You had to buy an expensive token to draw a random item and might still get duplicates. Who knows what ability she would get? It was great gamble though there was not catch or demerit.

"By the way, what is that thing in your arms?"

Mark asked while Nicole worriedly watched her unconscious friend.

Even though he worded it as something good, the process was still something to worry at with the perspective of normal people. However, her worry lessened drastically when Jollene's current state came into her mind. Right now, she was way stronger than before because of her ability. Just before she came here with the animal on her arms, she saw how Jollene fought.

"This guy? We're helping in digging some traps when it came running being chased by a large lizard. We don't know what kind of animal this is and got curious. Jollene fought the lizard and we saved it. It looks harmless so... Can we keep it?"

Staring at the animal, Mark really felt that this animal was way too odd compared to other large evolved animals he saw before. When Mark looked at those enlarged cats, spiders and even monkeys, the feeling he got was that those animals were forcedly evolved by the Mutagen in the air. This animal however was different.

It gave him the feeling that this animal was born with its changes. The possibility that it mutated before being born was highly possible. Looking at the size, the cub was likely about two to three weeks old. Most animals back before the outbreak would still be weak at that period. With Mutagen being active in everywhere right now however, it was not surprising how this young animal was able to run away from an Evolved Lizard.

"It's fine. Keep it. Just be sure to take care of it and not let it wander around and trouble others."

Mark had no qualms about keeping animals. The problem about keeping animals in a zombie outbreak was beacuse of the lack of food and their noises might attract danger but those kinds of problems did not exist in this place. There was plenty of food in the mountain whether it would be wild fruits and vegetables, meat from animals and fish from ther river. The noise the animals might make would not matter either since the construction of the base was already noisy.

Actually, he wanted as many as possible, especially livestock. Right now, there was a lucky bird being kept as pet near the spring. It was the grebe that chased Amihan several days ago. With the tiger's appearance that day, they managed to get several days of food supply which kept the grebe alive.

After that day, the grebe behaved as it had higher intelligence compared to other normal animals. It knew that if it angered these humans, she would likely end up in a platter. Due to that, Mark spared the bird and kept it as their first livestock. Mark even spared some of its eggs and let her hatch them in the future. That way, they would have more sources of food for the base after the eggs hatched and the chicks matured.

He also wanted some chickens and cows. Chickens might still be fine but cows would likely be dangerous now. There was a huge possibility that even female cows evolved into bull like animals after the outbreak.

Hearing Mark agree, Nicole was glad. After all, having a pet in this god forsaken world now was bliss. With everything trying to attack you, having an animal companion was very hard to happen. Although she got to take care of the [Blood Children] they were not pets and she treated them like babies due to the actual fact and reasons. Furthermore, none of them belonged to her even if Ruby stayed with her most of the time.

Nicole looked at Hallie once more. Her face turned worried from her previous expression.

"I told you not to worry about her. If you're really worried, get some cold water from the spring and wipe her face to reduce her temperature."

"Ah! Right! Please hold this!"

Nicole jolted and placed the little cub on Mark's hands. She then bolted off to get some water making Mark shake his head as he closed the door. Even though Nicole valued her friends too much, she was bad at situations like this one and did not know what to do.

He took a look at the animal on his hand that did not even resist when being handed at him. Its body was shaped like a fox but its fur and face was like a wolf. Even the ears were shaped like a wolf's but as large as a fox's. Even though dirty, the cub had a gray colored fur with thickness similar to ragdoll cats. Overall, the cub was cute due to its mixed appearance.

The cub on the other hand stared at Mark with curiosity. Especially when Amihan flew from Mark's back towards the cub.

"Amihan, why do always hide when there's people around?"

Mark asked. It was always like this. In terms of this behavior, it was rather better with Hallie even though Amihan rejected her the most but to others, she would always hide.

"My Lord, you know... I don't know either. Maybe, it's because I always hid from people. Before, the ones that saw me, with my lord as exception, tried to catch me."

"So, it became a habit?"

"Yes... Maybe..."

"What about Hallie?"

"Um... I don't know either. It just feels like you and her have some similarities I can't fathom."

Mark sighed. This little sylph did not even know her own feelings. Well, it was better to keep her innocent like this.

About the similarities she said however, Mark was sure about it. It was because he and Hallie were both Otakus. That was for sure. Rather than being afraid or persecute Amihan as a non-human creature, they were more interested in befriending their kind.

Although not all, many people were afraid of the unknown while others view them as a source of profit. Even though it was not happening in the eyes of the common people, for sure since the existence of Amihan and her race was confirmed by Mark personally, it was likely that many of her kind had been caught before and turned into profit for those hunters.

It might be one of the worst reasons why spirits and elementals that mingled with people according to myths and folklore started to stay away from humans.

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Amihan suddenly yelled and flew back.

She was rather curious of the animal Mark was holding and tried to pat it but she got licked instead.

"Sticky! And Smells BAD!"

Amihan yelled removing the saliva on her face before flying away going out of the window. She would surely go to the spring and wash herself. There was one thing that she was sensitive the most against and that was bad odors and smells. The reason might be because she was a spirit of the wind.

Mark inspected the cub and its features when he got an idea.

He took a small pouch out from the backpack he always carried everywhere he go after the airplane incident. It was a bag he got from the airplane. The backpack was sturdy and light which was perfect to move in even when he needed to fight.

Opening the pouch, the contents were revealed. Since the time he woke up here in the mountains, he encountered sorts of different evolved animals like the panther sized house cat at the roof of the city hall in Bacoor, Cavite. From the body of the cat, Mikio in his tree form handed him a rough crystal from the carcass of the cat. It was the same for the animals here in the mountain although it was just that the ratio of finding this crystals were the same as finding pebbles in the heads of the mutated infected. Furthermore, the [PsyCrystal] could not detect whether the animal had one for some reason or maybe because these rough crystals were for animals rather than people.

That was his initial assumption but it could also be wrong since Laelaps and Fein existed, animals that were Mutators.

Unexpectedly, the cub's attention perked up when Mark took out one of the rough crystals. Mark remembered the one he had taken out was the crystal that came from the tiger. He managed to differentiate it since he noticed that animals with stronger and stranger evolutions tend to have smoother looking crystals than weaker ones. The crystal he took out was still rough but more of a spherical shape than a shard shaped one.

"Want this?"

Mark asked the cub as the moved his hand holding the crystal side to side. Like a dog that saw a delicious treat, the cub followed Mark's hand. Its mouth was opened with its tongue was hanging and panting excitedly.

"GURAWRU!"

The cub let out a strange sounding sound which surprised Mark a little. He expected it to sound like a wolf, a fox or worst, a dog. However...

"What the hell are you?"

Mark suddenly asked. After all, the cub's voice had a cute young pitch but the sound was out of this world and outright disturbing.

Of course, there was no answer aside from several more strange sounds. Still, Mark knew that it was practically begging.

Since the cub wanted it, it should be fine to give one. Mark placed the cub on the table which immediately became afraid after being suddenly surrounded by the curious [Blood Children] but even though it was afraid, it was still staring at the crystal on Mark's hand.

Mark placed the crystal on his palm and moved it towards the snout of the cub. The cub took the crystal slowly as if afraid that Mark would suddenly hit it or Mark pulls his hand back. It bit the crystal and took it away from Mark's hand. After taking the crystal, it faced its head up and opened its mouth letting the crystal get swallowed whole.

"GURRAAAAWR!"

Suddenly, the cub roared with its cute voice and all its thick dirty fur fell on the table. Now, there was a bald unknown cub on the table which not only flabbergasted Mark but also made him worried. Nicole would not blame him right?

CREAK!

Someone opened the door. For sure, it was Nicole who brought back water.

PUFF!

The door opened and Nicole came in. Mark was not here anymore. Thinking that Mark went somewhere, Nicole proceeded to nurse Hallie who was left suffering. Her eyes neglected the little hairless cub on the table staring at her excitedly.

"GURAWR!"

The cub roared to call her. When she looked back on the table, her eyes went wide. She lost the grip on the pail and it fell on the floor. The pail tipped to the side as it fell and most of the water splashed on the unconscious Hallie.

Nicole panicked and did not know what to do. Hallie was soaked wet while the cub she wanted as pet became bald.

Seeing her situation and expression, Mark who escaped outside using his new ability and was watching outside the window did not know whether he should help her or just laugh out loud.