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281 The Aftermath, The Final Moments at the Death Valley Settlemen

 Day 41 - 10:12 PM - Barangay Pamplona, General Nakar, Quezon

While riding on Chaflar's back, Mark returned to the monastery to pick up the unconscious girl she left there. Of course, he was not alone this time. The [BloodChildren] that was left under Chaflar's care inside [Blood Metal] containers Mark hanged on the dragon's neck was released and was frolicking around Mark.

As for the mermaid he found, Mark also brought her along. Seeing a creature of legends of the sea for the first time, there was no way that he would leave her there to die. If possible, he wanted to keep her together with Amihan who was also a denizen of the mystical part of earth. Not to mention that there was also Pefile, the Tamawo who was Edzel's father, who could possibly be recruited in the future.

"Still, a mermaid, huh."

Mark muttered as he glanced at the unconscious mermaid.

Their legends could be heard in almost any part of earth. A lot of countries had them in their mythologies, stories that even started way before science and religion was popularized. Many skeptics and fake accounts about them but there were also those that seemed to be true. Of course, as their existence was way far from norm, stories about them were often deemed as hoax.

Unfortunately, the Mutagen's arrival on earth slowly broke the barrier that separated the norm everyone knew and the mystical face of earth. It was not surprising though that they were really existing. After all, no matter how people deny things, the fact that no one in the world truly knew everything in earth remained true. Although their existence was always renounced, there was never evidence found that they really did not exist.

In fact, there was a huge load of things that humans were yet to understand about earth. Yet, people always behaved as if they knew everything.

Looking back at the mermaid by his side, she looked beautiful and she had the looks of a western beauty. However, her beauty was just not in Mark's taste. If he was asked, he would surely say that he preferred eastern faces as an Otaku. In fact, Mei totally fit that criterion.

Mark did not know why he suddenly brought this out of his mind. Probably, the possibility of this mermaid being the last of her kind or at least, the last of her tribe triggered something inside him. What if he was left alone once more like how he lived the past four years? Mark felt rather complicated thinking that. It was very rare that he would feel something like this.

He raised his head and looked at the sky. Stars and the moon started to peek out from the clouds as the dark clouds started to disperse. The rain had already stopped and the lightning in the sky was nowhere to be seen. Without the whale, the storm finally stopped.

"I wonder if they are also looking at the sky right now."

Mark muttered. As some quotes in dramas, anime and manga, they might be separated for now but they were always under one sky.

He suddenly smiled with a hint of self-ridicule. The base was established, the danger in the surrounding area was dealt with, and the remaining [BloodChildren] were also retrieved. With all the things he wanted to do finally finished, it seemed that he became a bit sentimental. It was because finally, he could meet them.

Just a little more and he could meet them...

As he flew in the sky towards the monastery, he noticed a huge convoy of vehicles that arrived in the ruined settlement. Mark was quite surprised. He did not expect that they would come too fast. It was just more or less half hour after the battle finished and the military had already appeared to deal with the aftermath. However, it was not really that surprising that he remembered the spies left in the settlement. They should have contacted the military as soon as they were able to. As for the spy captain, Mark was not able to deal with him, that guy probably escaped already.

Mark sighed in relief finding the unconscious girl safe when he returned to the monastery. After all, he left in a hurry because of the crystal that suddenly flew off. Well, with every living thing and infected around dying due to the lightning strike he triggered, it would be surprising if the girl was suddenly in danger in the short time he was gone.

Soon, he returned to the Death Valley Settlement. The appearance of a huge creature suddenly landing in the middle of the school grounds alerted the soldiers that already occupied the place. Chaflar was immediately surrounded but seeing the familiar dragon and Mark riding on its back, those that recognized him immediately put their guns down.

The area was illuminated by spot lights and the noisy sounds of generators could be heard from several places. People who looked like slaves wearing tattered clothing and had wounds and scars on their bodies were being carefully escorted by the military into their vehicles. It seemed that the arrival of the military lightened the load in their hearts and hope could be seen in their eyes.

When Mark jumped down, two girls hurriedly approached him.

"MARK!"

Karlene and Alana came running with worried faces.

Back at East Port Settlement, Mark stayed behind for an unknown reason and they were already worried because of that. Hearing that Mark suddenly appeared and participated in the destruction of the dangerous settlement further bolstered their worries. Not to mention Mark's tattered appearance right now.

Remembering how Miracle fearlessly confronted Adrik back then and how Mark fearlessly participated in the destruction of this settlement, it really seemed like they were father and daughter. They were alike in some ways.

The two were about to complain to Mark but before they could utter a single word, Mark raised his hand to stop them.

"I know you two want to complain but can you two save that for later? I'm tired. Look at me, I'm all tattered and soaking wet."

Hearing that, the two swallowed the words they were about to say. What Mark said was reasonable. The two already heard from the soldiers about what they saw Mark did and of course, he would be tired after that. He succeeded in destroying this forsaken place after all.

While the two girls looked at each other with bitter smile and shrugging shoulders, Mark spoke once more.

"Also I want you two to help me a bit."

Mark then took the girl from Chaflar's back.

The first thing they saw the girl's missing arm.

"This is cruel, what happened to her?"

Karlene approached and touched the burnt stump of the girl's missing arm.

"Some cannibal snacked on her arm. I think she belong to East Port. Apparently, she was abducted when you encountered them."

"WHAT?!"

The two girls exclaimed in horror. Without any of them knowing, this poor girl was abducted and was turned into this. Although the two should not feel anything but pity on the girl, the two still felt rather responsible for this. After all, they all evacuated together and struggled the dangerous way together with those people. A slight sense of camaraderie was born among all of them which helped the Mutators who thought highly of themselves slowly accept their wrongdoings.

Then, Alana's eyes landed on the other thing on Chaflar's back. Her eyes turned wide and...

"In the name of Freaking Gaia! What is in the world is that?!"

Her voice was too loud that even the soldiers around were shocked and looked at her.

"You're too loud you know that? And where did you even get that phrase?"

Mark complained with an annoyed look.

"I made it myself!" Alana replied with a satisfied expression. "WAIT! What is that, really?"

"Do you really have to ask that?"

"I know, but... She's a Mutator right?"

"No, she's not. She's an authentic one."

"No way..."

Alana seemed to be rather shaken by the fact that another fantasy creature appeared before her eyes. As an Otaku, she knew that fantasy and reality was separate but now... She did not know anymore. In any case, she was joyful at her heart. She was really lucky that she came to know Mark and see these strange but fascinating things.

On the other hand, Karlene had completely frozen. Her depiction of reality and commonsense was shattering. It was a completely different one from the shattering that was caused by the apocalypse.

With all the commotion happening, General Faustino also arrived and conversed with Mark about his deed. Hearing things from the general, it seemed that they were going to ask Mark to get a share of the loot from this settlement such as weapons and supplies. Because of the evacuation, they were in a pinch right now. Although it might be called as being shameless, they needed everything they could receive to support their people.

In any case, the general and his officers had drawn a contract where it stated that they the transaction here would be a debt of the military to Mark and was to be repaid in the future. Mark had no qualms about it and accepted. Actually, rather than having all those guns, he just wanted to keep about two or three of each kind and a supply of ammunition for collection. As for the food, he just wanted those things that could be hard to procure nowadays and would not bother about sharing the common ones.

Mark returned to the main building leaving the unconscious girl and the mermaid in the care of Karlene and Alana. Seeing the mermaid, the soldiers also caused quite a ruckus especially those who were entranced to the sleeping beauty.

When he arrived at the building, he was immediately welcomed by four people. Among them were Aaron and Naomi. However, although they were glad that Mark came back alive, there was also the expression of helplessness in their faces.

Looking around, Mark found that the twenty people he decided to recruit had reduced to nine. Out of the nine, five people were still sitting down at the side while only looking at Mark with blank faces. They were the once who totally had no desire about things and only wanted to at least fulfill their words of joining Mark. Unexpectedly, Tullia also remained despite the fact that she did not answer Mark when he asked them for following him back to his base.

"Only you nine remained?"

Mark asked making Naomi and Aaron hung their faces.

"Sorry Master." Naomi lowered her shoulders. "We're not able to stop them when the military wanted to take us. Those that left wanted to leave together with the military."

"Well, I'm surprised that you nine remained."

"Please, don't ridicule us." This time Aaron was the one who answered. "We may look like this but we know how to fulfill the words we said. It was sad that the others were not the same though."

Hearing that, Mark was satisfied with this Aaron.

"Um... Master." Naomi spoke with hesitation which Mark looked at her and nodded for her to continue. "It seems that you are quite known by the military. Have you ever heard of a woman, a Mutator with wings? Her name supposed to be Audrey."

Hearing the name, Tullia who was keeping silent till now looked at Naomi with shock. Without noticing her stare, Naomi continued.

"Master, you see, Audrey is Tullia's sister. Her captors said that her sister was already caught for being a spy and was executed. That is why she was behaving like this. I just want to confirm if it's true."

Naomi's reason for this request made Mark look at her with a warm expression. He felt lucky to find these good people. Recruiting them to his base would only give him benefits.

"Alright. I'll ask them." Mark replied. "In any case, all of you here that remained are lucky. Those that left, for sure, will look at you all with envy and regret in the future."

Mark then turned around.

"All of you follow me."

With all the things done, Mark finally had the chance to return to his base. This time, not only the original members of his group was with him. There were ten new people, a mermaid and eight new [BloodChildren].