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321 Entering Phase Two, Planting Distrust and Creating Dispute

 Day 52 - 8:32 AM - Tent City, South District, Bay City Settlement, Pasay City, Metro Manila

Early in the morning, a lot of people were lined up for the morning rations. Although it was just chicken flavored rice soup that really did not have chicken meat in it and only had vegetables that were dried and powdered in it, a lot of people still lined up for the food. No matter what, it was still something that they could eat to fill up their growling stomachs.

There were not a lot of varieties with the jobs in the settlement offered by the military. Most of jobs required hard labor or combat experience and as such, many people were not able to join, especially the old, women and children. For those that had family members that were hired by the military, they had enough to get by day after day. The others however, had to rely solely on the rations. For the women that were desperate, they would secretly offer themselves to those that were able to scavenge outside.

"Here is yours. Be careful it's hot."

Melissa handed a bowl of soup to an elderly woman.

"Thank you."

The elderly woman smiled at Melissa before she left the line.

Right now, Anna, Melissa, Charmaine, Elsa and Cielo were among the people distributing the rations.

"Hey Melissa, Anna, is there really no work for you two somewhere else? One is a nurse, the other is a cook. You two should leave this to us sisters."

Charmaine asked. Normally, it was just her and her sisters while Anna was mostly behind the scenes as one of the cooks. Right now however, the two were together with the three.

"What I'm going to do? Stay inside the clinic all day without doing anything?" Melissa sighed. "I rather get paid to work and not to laze around."

People like Melissa who had clinical experience could get accepted into either the laboratory, the clinic or on field duty. As a nurse, the first option was a no go as more experienced doctors and scientists were allowed there. Since she was not an experienced combatant, it was better if she did not join as a field nurse during missions. All she could enter was the clinic which would only treat a handful of people every day.

Since no one was getting sick nowadays due to viruses or harmful bacteria, all the people that had to get treated in the clinic were those that received wounds and physical injuries. Not to mention that it would only happen mostly after military missions. These days, the military were mostly staying since their manpower was severely weakened after the failed mission in NAIA. Due to that, Melissa had nothing to do but stare at the window these past days and decided to help out in the ration distribution.

Anna on the other hand just joined in knowing that Melissa was also here.

"Charm, don't bother about it too much, it's better that there's more of us here. It won't be boring."

Elsa said to her sister making the youngest, Cielo, nod in agreement.

While the five chatted, they continued to fill the disposable plastic bowls with rice soup and handed the filled bowls to the people in line.

"What you girls think about what is happening these past days?"

Melissa suddenly changed the topic of the conversation.

"About the missing survivor teams?"

Charmaine asked.

"Yeah."

"I don't really think about it too much."

"Me too."

Cielo agreed with Charmaine.

"Right? It's really better that those people are not here."

Even Elsa agreed and spoke with contempt.

"What's with that reaction?"

Melissa was confused.

It was then that the next in line was a couple wearing masks and protective clothing. However, the girls were busy talking at each other that they did not pay too much attention.

"You're always in the clinic to you don't know but those survivor teams were the worst people."

"Is that so?"

"Yeah, not only they act arrogant because they have the backings of powerful people. Many of them even tried to hit on us. If not for the soldiers guarding the place, they might have done more than just that."

"Their eyes are scary every time they look at us."

Cielo who also experienced the worst thing as a woman after the apocalypse started could feel the ill intent of those people.

"Here you go, please be careful."

Charmaine smiled and handed two bowls of rice soup to the couple.

"Alright, thanks."

The man spoke before the couple turned around to leave.

"Still, it's kind of scary that five survivor teams had gone missing in just three days. That's about sixty people already. Two of the teams had already been confirmed wiped out and both teams seemed to have died in the same way. The military already started to suspect that whoever is doing this should be targeting the settlement. Many other teams were already hesitating to go out of Bay City thinking that they might be next."

"I don't think it's that bad. There were others that came out yesterday but returned fine. Maybe I'm just thinking this but the teams that were missing were those that had bad records."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really. Right Charm?"

Elsa turned to Charmaine just to see her staring at the couple that had just left the line with their bowls of rice soup.

"Charm?"

Finally, Charmaine turned back to the four other girls. However...

"Sis, I'm just going to check something."

Before the four could say anything, Charmaine ran off towards the exit of the distribution area. She was following the direction that the couple had left.

The couple turned at the corner leading to an alley where Charmaine lost sight of them. She hurriedly ran and turned at the same corner. But...

"Where are they?"

Charmaine started to slow down as she could not see the couple anymore. She was facing a dead end. She thought that the couple decided to stop in this place to eat but they were nowhere to be seen. Rather, there was no one in the alley at all.

"Charm, what's gotten into you? It's dangerous to move alone you know right?"

Elsa caught up to Charmaine.

"Sis, I..." Charmaine hesitated what to say..."Nevermind. Let's return."

***

"Gege, she looked dejected."

Mei spoke as she watched Charmaine return to the distribution area with Elsa.

"It's still not the time for us to show up. I just wanted to try out eating that the people here eat. It's just a coincidence that we encountered them. At least, they were doing fine outside."

Mark spoke.

The girls looked good outside but they were heavily impacted by Mei's disappearance. Their minds were in constant stress and their mood was rather sour. That was why they were trying hard to divert their minds into their work just like what Melissa and Anna were doing.

BRRROOOOOM!!!

While they were talking, a vehicle could be seen rushing on the street. The sound was too loud as the vehicle was speeding up.

Seeing the vehicle, Mark shook his head.

"This guy took his time. After we let him go, it took him about two hours before returning."

"Gege, don't compare them to you." Mei grabbed his arm. "You have a dragon and the power to move fast and become invisible. Just being able to return here alone is good already."

"I guess that's true. Let's find a place to eat first or the soup will get cold."

Mark turned towards the vehicle that was about to vanish from his sight. Since the enemies started to get cautious, it was already time for Phase Two.

***

Day 52 - 8:42 AM - Government Officials' Residences, North District, Bay City Settlement, Pasay City, Metro Manila

"Just what is happening this time?!"

Senator Estrada slammed his palms on the table.

Right now, all the members that schemed for the military to fail the NAIA mission were gathered once more. They were supposed to celebrate the current rise of their manpower and influence in Bay City but what was happening was the complete opposite. Five teams were already gone from their people and two of those teams were confirmed as dead already. If would be fine if they were just normal lackeys but among those survivor teams were the strongest ones in their people.

"Senator Estrada, you should calm down."

Raver said with a foul expression. Among those missing survivor teams, two belonged to him. The first team, [Leo Troops], was already found dead. Yesterday, another team under him, [Scorpio Troops], had gone missing. He was infuriated about what was happening. The members of both troops were his men even before the outbreak happened.

He might be a business genius but his current status was not reached cleanly. He hired people to harass and scare his competitors which caused his fast rise in influence and power. When the outbreak started, those people continued to serve under him and some of them became powerful Evolvers and Mutators. Now, one team was found dead and one was missing. Who would not be infuriated?

Among the people inside the usual room, three more people had unsightly faces as the other three missing teams were among their men. They were Congressman Escobar, Senator Asucena and Senator Osmeña.

"What do all of you think?" Congressman Escobar spoke. "Among all the survivor teams that went out the past three days, only teams that belonged to our alliance had gone missing. There is no doubt that whatever is happening is directly aimed at us."

"And who would dare do that?"

Congressman Montesoro asked.

"Who else? It should be the military." Congressman Escobar replied with a grudging tone. "Since our alliance is gaining momentum, they needed to weaken us."

"You already saw the pictures. The way they died is very unfit for the military, especially those under General Perez."

"That is the point there. Since they were killed brutally, the military will not be easily suspected. Think about it, it is the military who found the two confirmed cases."

His words became more logical as the conversation deepened. Still, there was doubts and without enough evidence, the assumption could not be confirmed.

Just while everyone was immersed in the discussion, the doors were knocked heavily which caused everyone in the room to enter a state of alert. Once the door was opened by one of the guards, a thin looking man barged in panting heavily and sweating profusely.

Seeing the man, Senator Osmeña stood up.

"Fraco! What happened?! Why are you here?!"

The retired senator obviously knew the man that came in making everyone lower their alertness. However, they had a bad premonition about this.

"Sir! Everyone! Everyone!"

Fraco tried to speak but he was being short of breath.

"Calm down before telling us what is happening."

Senator Estrada interjected with a frown.

"Yes Fraco, calm down first."

Senator Osmeña also tried to pacify his subordinate. Unfortunately, it was not effective.

"S-Sir. Everyone... Everyone is dead! Phil, Arlan, everyone!"

Hearing that, everyone froze, especially Senator Osmeña.

The people Fraco was talking about were the retired senator's elite forces that he sent to investigate the first missing team from his men. Since there was already the suspicion that they were being targeted, she sent three teams along with his elites to investigate which were about a hundred people all in all. But for all of them to be dead with only Fraco as the survivor was totally unbelievable.

"Tell me! Are you sure?! Are they really dead?!"

The retired senator grabbed Fraco on his shoulders and questioned him seriously.

"Sir, I know what I saw. Everyone was tied up while being eaten alive by the infected. I also saw the culprits!"

Hearing that, the ears of everyone in the room perked up.

"Speak! What did the culprits look like? How many are they?"

Raver could not help but raise his voice while asking.

"Sir Raver, I only saw two people. I can't see their faces because they were wearing hooded robes and masks."

"Only two people?! That's total bullsh*t!"

Senator Estrada bellowed as he was also there when Senator Osmeña sent them.

"Senator, I-I don't know how they did it b-but... I know what I saw."

"Why didn't you see what happened?"

"Sir, I separated from everyone for a bit to attend by call of nature. When I returned, everyone is gone. When I searched for them, that was what I saw."

Senator Estrada frowned and turned towards Devon.

"We need your shadow people now."

"I only have two people available now since the others escorted the target away remember."

"It's fine. Call them out."

Devon snapped his finger and two robed people appeared from the shadows. Aside from Senator Estrada's men, the other people in the room were surprised. However, there was someone who was more shocked than surprised.

Fraco stared at the robed figures with wide eyes. He stood up hysterically and shouted.

"THAT ROBE! THOSE ROBES! F*CK! YOU MONSTERS KILLED THEM!"

Fraco without restrain charged towards the two robed figures as his teeth turned into fangs and his nails turned into claws.