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315 Meeting on the Terminal Rooftop, The Prelude to the Greedy Senators Fall

 Day 47 - 5:11 PM - Rooftop, Terminal 2, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Parañaque, Metro Manila

On the rooftop of the NAIA Terminal 2, Mark and Mei sat together with Miracle, Aephelia and the [Blood Children] with the exception of Crimson who was not here. While waiting for the others that were still not here to arrive, Mark and Mei who were separated for a long time started to tell the stories they experienced during their separation.

Learning about the [Blood Children], Aephelia and Freed's connection and about Freed's existence, Mei could not help but feel both shock and sympathy. Their stories sounded like fantasy, but with what was happening in the whole world right now and also experiencing many things, she could only believe it, especially since there were living evidences in front of her.

Right now, she was playing with Oracle while talking to Mark. Unlike Miracle who looked shy, the [Blood Children] were as usual who were curious about almost everything. When they all saw Mei after getting of their canisters, the first thing that they did was surround Mei in curiosity. If Mark did not inform her beforehand, she would surely think that she was being besieged or something along that line.

While they were talking, Mark could not help but bring out a pressing issue that was bothering him. It was about why Laelaps and Fein seemed to be not with them despite the fact that those two could help a lot in this mission.

The reason was both bothering and surprising.

Laelaps was injured in their previous mission apparently. They were gathering supplies from warehouses at the Pier 15 about three kilometers north of Bay City. While on the mission however, Laelaps accidentally stepped on a trap which wounded her left hind foot. It turned out that one of the warehouses seemed to be inhabited by survivors but left the area in hurry leaving the traps in the open. It was just unlucky that the golden dog activated one of the traps that had yet to be triggered.

As for Fein, the beetle was sick. Though, being sick was just the normal way to describe it, the real circumstances were stranger. The beetle seemed to be in a very slow and painful process of molting. In fact, its old exoskeleton already started to crack revealing brand new exoskeleton inside just the previous night.

Mark did not think that beetles of Fein's species molt after adulthood but it did not really matter. The world had already become a strange place. It would not be surprising if even people started to molt their skin like snakes.

While talking, Mark and Mei ate food and watched the infected nest in front of them. Other people might find it repulsive to eat while something as disgusting looking as the current state of the airfield but the two did not bother at all. They were even eating happily. The food Mark got from the airport terminal was still in good condition. Since the airport was untouched by survivors since the start of the outbreak, the properly stored food Mark saw inside the terminal was quite an amount. It seemed that the airport stocked properly before the outbreak since it was the holiday season when it started.

"Gege, what are you thinking about?"

Mei asked as she noticed him staring at the huge pod being guarded by the [Alpha Type].

"Well, I just noticed the resemblance of that pod. Right, Aephelia?"

"Yes." Aephelia nodded. "I may hate to admit it but that pod closely resembles the pods that we encountered back in our planet. It is also one of the reasons I feel unsettled around that pod."

Mark looked at the largest pod with stern eyes. From the memories he inherited from Freed, that pod really looked like the ones that they encountered in Eriellis. From those pods, powerful psychic infected were born. The existence of this pod further bolstered the idea that Mutagen and PsyPathogen could have come from a single source.

TINK!

A sharp sound was heard as a new [Mental Crystal] was formed. While doing other things, Mark also chose this place to pass time to take advantage of the spiritual energy from the black clouds that were yet to scatter. Looking at how thick the clouds even after several hours, it were likely that these thick clouds would stay for a few more hours. Still, the creation of the new crystals was not as fast as when he was inside the storm created by the berserk whale. The concentration of the clouds was too scattered and most of the energy were directed to the infected causing a lot of them to mutate.

Fortunately, the infected already stopped mutating after the ritual was stopped. Otherwise, it would be terrifying to encounter a horde of millions of immortal infected. Of course, the number of those that already mutated was still in thousands. Most people that would encounter these infected would surely die without doubt.

A few more minutes passed, Mark turned his head towards the northeast.

"Finally... They were too slow."

Mark sighed.

Mei also turned her head. Due to the black clouds, she could not see it immediately. She then zoomed in her sight and she finally saw the shadow under the dark clouds flying towards their direction.

Soon, the large creature landed in front of them. Even though Mark had already told her about this, Mei was still amazed. In her eyes, Chaflar looked strong and intimidating. Of course, she noticed that it looked strange when it was looking at Mark.

Then, a small figure flew towards Mark which he caught with care.

"Amihan, I already warned you about diving towards me like that."

Mark could not help but reprimand the little sylph. It was always like this and if he did not carefully catch her, she would surely hurt herself.

"Boo, My Lord left me with them! Karlene is really bad at directions! We got lost!"

Amihan complained teary eyed.

Mark looked at Karlene who looked embarrassed as she hopped down from Chaflar's back.

"Sorry..."

Karlene apologized. At least, she did not try to glaze her wrong doing.

On the other hand, Edzel seemed to be tired mentally.

"Why are you all arrive too late? What happened?"

Mark asked sternly.

"Well..." Karlene smiled bitterly. "We encountered a horde of infected along the way. They were all mutated so we tried to run away but they chased us. Oh, Chaflar flew us away but those infected were too persistent. They jumped and climbed up buildings just to chase us. Then..."

"Then?"

"We got lost."

Mark sighed.

"You all could have just followed those thick black clouds you know that?"

"Hello?" What Mark said seemed to have struck a nerve on Karlene. "Who in the right mind will charge forward such sinister looking clouds?"

"It is where the NAIA is though."

"That's..."

Karlene was at a loss. Although Mark was right, she knew that she was not wrong either. Following common sense, it was better to avoid things that looked to dangerous or strange and these thick black clouds were far more than just sinister looking.

"Alright, I'll let it go this time."

Mark decided to let Karlene off this time. Of course, next time, she would receive a good scolding.

After that, Mark was about to introduce Mei to Karlene and Edzel. That was when...

"No need to introduce me, we knew each other."

"Huh?"

Mark was quite surprised about it. He never heard anything about this.

"Surprised?"

Karlene acted as if she succeeded in her prank.

At that moment, Mark turned to Mei.

"You know her?"

But then...

"... No?"

It was Karlene's turn to be dumbfounded.

"Wa-wait! We met before at one of your father's parties! I was together with my father and your cousin at that time!"

"Cousin? Who?"

"Joash."

"Ah... That...."

Mei seemed to have remembered but her expression became even more disturbed and sad.

"What kind of party is that?"

Mark asked. He could sense that it brought out a bad memory on Mei.

"Ah..." Karlene also realized her blunder and her voice trailed off. "I guess... I know now why she doesn't remember me. She really looked down in that party and seemed to be out of it. It was her engagement party with... Well, I don't really remember the guy..."

Mark sighed. No wonder Mei looked down. Still, it was a small world.

"That's the past alright."

Mark caressed Mei's head making her nod.

While consoling Mei, Mark introduced Edzel as his subordinate. Edzel however turned really timid in front of Mei. It was kind of understandable though. He was also the same when he saw Karlene and Alana in person for the first time.

"Say, what are we going to do here?"

Karlene asked. She was rather feeling uncomfortable while looking at the pulsating pods below. Especially the largest one, her scalp was tingling and she was feeling shivers in her spine whenever her eyes fell on that horrendous thing.

Not only Karlene, even Edzel looked uncomfortable.

"Well stay here for the night."

"HUH? WHY? Bay City is already close by."

"I have my plans. We'll go there after my business here is done alright?"

"Okay. But where are we going to sleep."

Karlene was rather jittery right now and her eyes were kind of red. It seemed that the lack of sleep these past days was already getting unto her. Even Edzel was showing signs of fatigue.

"Maybe, we can try the VIP lounge." Mark suggested. "Eat first and we'll look for it."

Mark tossed some canned food to the two. It was also obvious that they had not eaten lunch yet.

***

Day 47 - 5:30 PM - Government Ofificials' Residences, Central Business Park, Bay City, Parañaque, Metro Manila

"S-Sir, I'm here to report."

Umbra kneeled in front of Devon. At the side, Senator Estrada was watching.

"How did it go? Where are the others?"

Devon asked with a stern expression as usual.

"Sir, there had been a change of plans and the target was kept alive. My subordinates are together with the target."

"What happened?! Why is she still alive?!"

Senator Estrada could not help but stand from his seat hearing that the person he wanted dead was still alive. On contrary, there was no change in Devon's expression.

"Speak. What happened?"

"The Great One took interest in the lady and we invited her under the Great One's orders. My subordinates were currently guarding her and we were preparing to escort her away."

"Is that so..."

Devon was hit with realization. The business and plans the members of the organization could not be altered in anyway with one circumstance as exception. It was when the Great One or the other beings with the same authority willed for the change.

"Alright, be sure to properly escort her. What about the military and the woman's companions?"

"Sir, the lady agreed to the invitation without resistance and the Great One decided to spare them by the lady's request. However, they failed the mission with a large amount of casualties. They might return sooner or later."

Hearing that, Devon nodded with understanding. It was probably done on a whim of the Great One. It was not the first time that it happened.

"Alright, you can go. Be sure not to displease the Great One."

"Yes Sir."

Getting the permission to leave, Umbra melded within the shadows and vanished.

Devon seemed to accept the report since it was not the first time that it happened but of course, Senator Estrada was totally displeased.

"Devon, what is the meaning of this? How dare that Great One destroy my plans?!"

Hearing that, Senator Estrada was not able to speak further as his neck was grabbed by Devon.

"Be careful about your words. The name of the almighty Great One is not for someone like you to defame."

Feeling the killing intent in Devon's words, Senator Estrada gulped his saliva and nodded. Devon finally let him go.

"Just be happy that the military failed and had a large amount of casualties. Use this to weaken their prestige. As for the companions of that woman, they were nothing without her. It will be fine to let them go for now."

Devon walked out of the room leaving the pale faced Senator. The senator was fuming inside but of course, he would not show it unless he wanted to die.

***

"Hah, I should hide from everyone now."

Umbra said while looking at the walls erected around Bay City. Since he had no place to go now and he fulfilled the task given to him, he should lay low. Then...

"GAAAHHAAAA!"

His scream was heard as the miasma inside him started so eat him from inside.

"Why?"

Then, who knows if he was just hallucinating but he heard that person's voice from the miasma swirling inside him.

"Don't be mistaken, I never said that I will leave you alive. Like your subordinates, you will die just because you tried to lay your hand on my woman. Still, you have my gratitude for following my instructions. Goodbye."

In a few moments, Umbra vanished without a trace leaving his robe being blown by the wind to Manila Bay.