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291 Picking Up the Package, The Bad Karma of A Certain Girl

 Day 44 - 6:55 AM - Mount Malabito, General Nakar, Quezon

At the sky above the foot of the mountain northeast of the Mountain Base, a dragon flew with several people on its back. Of course, it was Chaflar who was serving as Mark's transport. With the dragon around, it became easier for Mark to traverse the distance that should have taken longer and harder.

Since the base was at the slightly flatter area southeast part of Mount Malabito, it would normally take several hours just to hike down the mountain towards Agos River and go up the mountain range on the other side to reach Marikina-Infanta Highway. From the highway, walking towards the new location of the Military Settlement would take several more hours. Not to mention the dangers that they would encounter on foot.

Mark had already brought back the motorcycles he hid after eliminating the outlaws but he had yet to find a place to park the vehicles near the road. Right now, their priority was developing the base and structures all the way outside would have to wait for a while.

On Chaflar's back, everyone sat neatly. A comfortable saddle had already been made on the dragon's back which enabled five adults to ride. Chaflar's back was quite wider than the area of its shoulders. Due to that, the saddle was positioned in one, one, two and one seating order. Not to mention that the saddle was connected to a carrier under Chaflar that could hold quite an amount of baggage.

The first seat was occupied by Mark and Miracle sat in front on him. Karlene occupied the second seat while Edzel was on the right seat behind Karlene. The two remaining seats were occupied by the bags Mark brought that should not be put under Chaflar for many reasons. Of course, Amihan was on Mark's shoulder as she controlled used her powers to remove the air resistance as Chaflar flew as fast as possible.

The morning air above the mountains was colder than the city, Karlene and Edzel still shivered even though they were already wearing jackets. Even though Amihan warded the air resistance and they could not feel any wind blowing hard, the temperature was still there.

"Don't you three feel cold at all?"

Karlene could not help but complain as she saw how Mark, Miracle and Amihan seemed to be unaffected by the cold temperature.

In response to Karlene's question, Mark opened one of the canisters beside his backpack and let Crimson out. He then handed the [Blood Child] to Karlene.

"Hold him tight and don't let him fall."

Karlene was confused as to why Mark gave Crimson to her but when she held the [Blood Child].

"He's warm..."

She could not help but rub Crimson on her face.

Mark could feel that Crimson was troubled about this but the poor [Blood Child] could only endure. On the other hand, Mark was quite pleased with how Edzel was behaving. Edzel knew that he was still not worthy of the same treatment as Karlene had and was enduring the cold without saying anything. It made Mark want to see how long he could endure.

***

Back in the base, Edzel saw how different the people lived. They were wearing good clothes, they were well fed and everyone did not emanate the same atmosphere most people in the East Port Settlement had. The people in the base could even smile and the slaves that had already given up on living were starting to see a better future.

Seeing those things, he could not help but think.

"What if I and Pearl lived here in the first place? She wouldn't have left me then."

He could only shake his head when that thought came and the words he heard in his ears before resurfaced.

That event was not anyone's fault but his. It was because of his weakness.

During his stay in the base, Mark left Edzel in the care of Huey and the others. He saw the abilities of the first group in Mark's base firsthand. Eagerness, that was what he felt as he watched them.

There were also times when Jollene would bring him to train and spar. Of course, he was pitifully trashed although he was physically stronger than her.

Yesterday, Hallie noticed his eyes as he watched another of Jollene's and Alana's spars. She gave him a few words.

"Jollene isn't that great before. She's even the weakest among us."

She said which surprised him.

When he asked how she became strong, Hallie answered.

"She accepted being Mark's slave along with Huey. Along with her natural ability, she became strong with Mark's training." Hallie then looked at him. "You and Jollene had the same eyes before you know that? The same thirst to become strong. Mark brought you here so as long as you follow him, you'll be strong in the future."

After saying that, Hallie left and wanted to join the spar of Jollene and Alana. However, the two refused adamantly.

It was because Hallie was already a Mutator and a rather powerful one. They said that it was because of Mark that she became one. He could not help but anticipate the future, but now, he just have to show that he was worthy of it.

***

Day 44 - 7:24 AM - Barangay Banugao, Infanta, Quezon

It did not take long and they arrived at the new settlement. They saw evolved birds along the way but they all avoided Chaflar and some even fled in fear. It made their travel even easier this time. As long as they did not encounter any infected capable of flight like giant flies or mosquitos, they should be fine.

Seeing the familiar dragon, the people of the new settlement did not create any fuss anymore. They had seen Chaflar several times this past days as Mark travelled several times for different purposes. Still, many people gathered to at least catch a glimpse of the legendary dragon that now existed before their eyes. Mark found it rather annoying though.

As he landed, General Faustino and Major Bautista were already there waiting for them. After all, this meeting was already scheduled before and was of great importance. They needed Mark to bring several things to Bay City for both development and research. Another thing was they also needed Mark to bring back a few things from Bay City, especially some of the fruits of the research there.

Normally, they could just transmit the things through radio by using encrypted messages but with the members of international organization lurking around, they could not do that anymore. Actually, the [Berserk Liquid] that the Death Valley Settlement was not only their research but they were also trying to recreate the [Regeneration Medicine] but just failed since Port of Real Settlement did not transmit any of their findings on the radio yet.

"It's good that you guys are here. I don't need to go anywhere else like your office or something."

Mark said as he approached General Faustino.

"You don't really have anything else to do here, right? It will be better if we don't take too much of your time."

The general replied with a smile as he personally handed three metal cases to Mark.

"This one is yours to keep."

He added as he gave the third case.

"Alright, thanks."

Mark accepted the metal cases. He already knew the contents of the cases and the one given to him was a sample of [Berserk Liquid] and a copy of the research. It was one of the compensations he could get for this job not to mention the copies of research from Bay City he would receive after he returned.

"Edzel, take these and put these in the carrier."

He called Edzel and handed the two of the three metal cases. Edzel immediately complied and put the metal cases on the carrier under Chaflar's body.

On the side, Karlene and her father were talking. After all, Karlene was going away where communication was currently impossible.

"Sir Mark."

After Mark conversed with General Faustino, someone called unto him. Mark knew that they were here.

"Mr. Salvador. Do you have any business with me right now?"

Mark spoke. The person in front of him was the head of Salvador Family, Darren Salvador.

"Just Darren is fine." Darren smiled. "It's about our cooperation."

"Is something wrong?"

"You see, we surveyed our properties yesterday, the plantation we had that is stated in the contract. The whole place is decimated and almost everything we planted was destroyed."

"So you are saying that you won't be able to uphold the terms stated in contract, right?"

"Yes, unfortunately." Darren sighed. "You have done us a huge favor back then and even gave use a good amount of food for sustenance but we don't have much to give you in return."

Mark smiled. Darren was really an honest person. Instead of lying and prolonging the issue, he actually came here to tell the problem honestly. In the first place, Mark had no interest in those properties. He only wanted to use Annica's taming ability. That was why he was really not bothered about the plantation.

Then, Darren made a bold declaration.

"That is why if possible, our family will work under you from now on."

Hearing that, not only Mark but the other people around were surprised especially those that came from the East Port Settlement and were helped by the kindness of Salvador Family.

Their family already surrendered their status to the Military and many people they hired already left them not to mention that many died back then during the multiple battles they experienced while evacuating.

With nothing left but their selves, the members of the Salvador Family could only use their people to uphold their end of the contract.

They did not know. Becoming Mark's people just would further deepen their debts. Still, Mark found it more convenient that they offered it themselves. Actually, he also wanted to recruit them, especially Annica.

However, Mark could not bring them now as he was in a hurry.

"Then, can you wait for my return? Just a week or so and I will bring your family with me."

"A week, huh... No problem."

Darren then held out his hand which Mark received with a bit of annoyance. He still hated handshakes.

Mark did not really stay long and left after their business were done and Karlene finished her farewell with her Father. Major Bautista also made Mark promise to take care of his daughter well in this journey. Karlene was really loved by the people close to her.

As they took off, Mark could not help but feel something strange. It as if something changed... Something he could not explain. Then, he realized, if he did not see the premonition last night, he would not hurry this much and might have immediately brought the Salvador Family to his base. That would surely take more time.

"It was one of the things that should have made me delayed isn't it? It would surely not be the last one."

He murmured as he turned his head looking at the corner of one of the school buildings. There was quite a tint of pity in his eyes.

***

Behind one of the school buildings, a girl in her teens watched the dragon flew away. She was emaciated and her body was filled with scars. The clothing she was wearing was old and dirty. It was obvious that the injuries she acquired happened not long ago as her scars were rather new. Her fair skin looked coarse now and a knife wound that went from her forehead, between her eyes and to her right cheek destroyed her face.

She looked at the fading silhouette of the dragon with longing, guilt and regret in her eyes. Although she tried to hide it, the glistening drop of tear that fell down on her face could be seen.

"It seems you're doing well now... It is better for you to not see me like this..."

The girl murmured as she wiped her tears with her dirty sleeves. Without anyone noticing, she walked away back to where she belonged now...

...Together with the outcast slaves.

***

Volume 5 END