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Published at 31st of December 2018 03:31:46 PM

Chapter 26


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"Cough! Cough!!"

" *hic* Hang, hang in there, Mel! *sob* You'll be okay, you'll be okay…you have to be okay!"

A young blonde Australian bawled her eyes over a figure dyed in red .

"Annie, stay outside . It's a critical time for her, I can't let anything contaminate her wounds . "

A firm and professional voice sternly spoke to Annie .

The voice belongs to Joy, Annie's mother .

As a seasoned nurse, she has done her best to stabilize Melissa's condition .

Looking at her patient, uncertainty shone in her eyes .

With more than 15 years of emergency and trauma experience under her belt, Melissa's current situation would only last for half a day .

'10% . If they couldn't find the items we need…we-'

Joy closed her eyes and shook her head .

Trying to brush away her thoughts, she prayed silently that a miracle would happen .

***

4th August 2018, 7:00 AM .

Departing from the shoplots that they sheltered in for the night, Jennifer, Chai and Zack moved north towards the Air Force base .

Stop!

Zack halted the group abruptly by raising up his right hand .

'Decaying flesh and blood' . (Zack)

His super-olfactory senses picked up the rotting stench from 150-meters away .

In the midst of a black tar-road littered with dried leaves, the surrounding forest made Zack's senses a little off-focus .

In the city, he could spot zombies immediately by identifying their smell, their sound pattern when they walked, the rhythm of vibrations when the zombies move, etc .

But in an ecosystem where abundant of life forms converge, he needed to concentrate more than usual to distinguish the undead .

'Three…five . Hm? There's other groups wandering around too?' (Zack)

"Yo, you're taking up longer than usual . Everything okay, bro?" (Chai)

With Zack as the 'Sensor' at the forefront, Chai guarded the rear and Jennifer walked in the middle .

"I don't know, bro . The walker's walking pattern seemed…weird . " (Zack) . He looked at his best friend with a dubious facial expression .

"Maybe…they aren't zombies? They might be people . " (Jen)

The thick trees, luscious green canopy and wild undergrowth of the forests enveloping the area made it challenging for Zack to identify these 'groups' with sight .

His sight was blocked by the tree trunks, and he would have to get closer to identify them properly .

The sound of insects also masked the distinct moans unique to the living corpses .

"Aside from the corpse stench and the vibrations from people walking, I can't sense anything else . " (Zack)

"Well, I guess it's time to try out Jen's new power . Dude, do your thang . " (Chai)

Jennifer nodded .

Before proceeding with locating Melissa, Annie and Joy, they realized that the Air Force base spans a significantly large area .

If they were to rely on Zack alone, it would be too inefficient .

[ Upgraded Empathy! ]

[ Empathy (Lv . 1) : Gained empathic powers to control, manipulate and alter the feelings, sensations, and emotions of others . ]

With this skill, Jennifer will be able to detect emotions .

At her current level, it has a radius of 100-meters .

When she tested it out with Chai and Zack, she could only work out simple emotions like happiness, sadness, anger .

"I'll need to get closer . " (Jen)

The trio walked towards the nearest 'group' .


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At approximately 90-meters away, the scarlet-haired beauty clad in a fireman's suit was closing her eyes .

'Hm . . no . That's not it…' (Jen)

Opening back her eyes, she looked at the two men with stunning visuals and shook her head left and right .

She could not sense any emotions from the direction Zack pointed to her .

After thinking for a few seconds, he got an idea .

"How many points you have left?" (Zack)

After exterminating a large group of zombies at the Fire Station, they gained a significant boost of experience points .

"A lot . 752 points . " (Jen)

Her skill [ Empathy ] only costs 50 experience points .

"Okay . Let's try 'that' skill . That'll be an ultimatum to decide if we confront or avoid them . " (Zack)

The team agreed, if they sensed zombies, they will flee . If they sensed another human, they will confront them and ask for information .

"Oh-ho . Jenny's gonna know a lot of secrets from now on, hehe . " (Chai)

"Don't worry, Chai . I don't need this skill to know yours . " (Jen)

"Haha, that's right! Hey wait, what does THAT mean?" (Chai)

Upon gaining the [ Empathy ] skill, she has unlocked another new ability .

[Congratulations to individual <Jennifer White> for unlocking Skill: Telepathy!]

[ Upgraded Telepathy! ]

[ Telepathy (Lv . 1): Able to read thoughts and also project and broadcast own thoughts . ]

The cost of gaining the first level of any skills were relatively cheap, only 50 points .

"How do you feel? Can you read our minds, Jen?" (Zack)

She initiated the same thought process to activate the [ Empathy ] skill, but this time she focused on sensing thoughts instead of sensing emotions .

(Please work . If it does, we could meet them again . )

(Man, if that group turned to be zombies, it's gonna be soooo boring . I hope they're really strong people instead . )

"Ugh!" (Jen)

Jennifer jerked back, holding her head . Her twitching eyelids signaled the unexplainable jolt of pain inside her head .

Chai and Zack immediately held her by the shoulders .

She leaned on a nearby tree trunk for a couple of minutes .

Slowly opening her eyes, she took a gulp of fresh air and showed the two concerned men a thumbs up .

The mental burden that she took was equivalent to lifting several tons of weight using telekinesis .

Mind-reading would require one to penetrate the mental barriers of another human .

What she did not know yet, was that the [ Telepathy ] skill would only be convenient to use on beings with lower capabilities than her .

"Do you need more time to rest?" (Zack)

With a worried eyes, he tries to see if there were any physical changes on her .

"I'm okay now . I'll have to rely on you guys if I get another headache . " (Jen)

"Heh, with this awesome big bro here, what do you have to worry about? Nobody can touch my friends!" (Chai)

"Yes, yes . I'll try to find some strong guys for you to fight, okay Chai?" (Jen)

"You're the best, Jen- hey, wait a minute? How did you know what I was thi- oh sh*t!, it really worked!!" (Chai)

After having a few sip of water, Jennifer stood up properly .

'Here goes nothing!' (Jen)

Pearls of clear saline droplets flowed down her rosy skin .

'Why is there nothing at all?' (Jen)

Frustrated, she opened her eyes and told the guys that she couldn't detect any thoughts .

'The probability of the group being zombies is clear . But then again, we haven't tested her telepathy range yet . ' (Zack)

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"Ey brah, even Jenny couldn't read their thoughts . We skippin' them?" (Chai)

"No, we engage them . We can't dismiss the possibility of them being humans just because we can't read their thoughts . " (Zack)

Once they're close enough to be distinguished, Zack will give them a signal .

Humans, approach them slowly .

Zombies, destroy their heads swiftly from afar .

They calmly moved closer to the group .

Uuunnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggghhkkkkkhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh~

Swish! Swish! Shiuuu!

Crack! Splat!

Greyish-pink brain matters dispersed on the trees and ferns .

"Hah, they were zombies after all!" (Chai)

Metal forks were embedded on tree trunks .

With Chai and Zack's current abilities, they could turn anything into deadly weapons .

The undead did not even realize that they are dead until they were swiftly killed by these three superhumans .

With this zombie group, they have confirmed that zombies does not have emotions nor thoughts .

Jennifer's [ Telekinesis ] range is currently at 85-meters, if she were to utilize her full powers .

The farther the object is, the weaker her powers are .

'Breaking a zombie's head is so easy . ' (Jen)

As long as she could sense the object or subject (either via sight or telepathy), she could put her powers on effect .

"Alright, we now have a sure-fire method to determine if they are humans or zombies . We'll continue finding them, and we'll take a break every hour . " (Zack)

From the road leading to the base, they detoured west into the forest where they killed the zombie group .

Keeping their senses up, they avoided many zombie groups .

*munch* "Hey Zack . " *munch* (Chai)

While satiating their hungry stomachs, Chai noticed that the zombie groups they avoided were mostly in groups of four or five .

Usually the undead would roam around aimlessly by themselves .

Even when they were gathered at an area, like the event at the Municipal Shelter's compromised East Building, they did not form groups of a certain set of numbers .

A few hypothesis popped up .

*munch* "What if someone gains the power to control inanimate object? Or necromancy?" *munch* (Zack)

In the present situation where even all three of them were the prime example of humans gaining powers, it's not impossible for other to have it .

"D*mn, like that wimp from Apocalypse no Toride manga?" (Chai)

Zack shrugged his shoulders .

They have to take every considerable conjectures into mind .

After fifteen minutes, the team moved again .

The reason why they did not immediately head towards the base was because it was too quiet .

In the Map, it showed that the Army Base was surrounded by a multiple residential areas on the western and southwestern region .

On it's northwest area were the industrial factories area .

If the infection has even reached the Fire Station, it might have even spread to the areas adjacent to the base that has a lot of human populations .

Being a military base, they would have weapons on standby .

With the confirmation of zombie groups roaming around, there would be no doubt that gunfire shots should be heard .

The silence of the base located 1 . 5 kilometers away confirmed by Zack's [ Super Senses ] would mean a few things .

And none of the things are positive things .

'It's like talking to a void . No response at all . ' (Zack)


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Since cell and internet communications are down, they could only rely on the tactical radio earbuds they distributed earlier on the journey .

Their devices allowed them to communicate about 1 ~ 1 . 2 kilometers away .

The trio agreed to search for the girls 1 . 5 kilometers away from the silent base .

If there are no traces of them, they will head to the base .

They reached the end of the forest after half an hour .

Dusk-colored light illuminated the open spaces ahead of them .

Squinting their eyes, the forest's darkness made the scenery in front of them as if they were watching an overexposed video .

'We should be at the Off-Base Military Housing . ' (Zack)

Higher ranked officer could choose to stay outside of their base .

As an incentive, the Malaysian Government has built residential areas nearby their Army Bases .

This would allow them to reach the base quickly while rewarding them for their hard work .

The trio swiftly reached the nearest Residential Area .

Commencing the same procedure, they searched high and low for signs of life while avoiding the undead .

Each Residential Area has an average of forty houses .

There were seven Areas, and they are currently on the Fifth .

Halt!

Zack's hand curled up into a fist and the whole team is frozen still .

'I don't know what is up ahead, but the zombie horde is all gathered there . ' (Zack)

He then proceeded to relay the information to Chai and Jennifer .

According to the Map, the final two Areas would be after another three kilometers .

But the Areas were covered with another forest, which means they would have to risk it again .

"How are they standing so still? As if…" (Jen)

They need to either detour away from the horde, or find the source of the zombie's weird behavior .

Zack signaled to his team members towards a direction of a house .

They settled in a two-story bungalow house with its own yard and compound .

After checking through the exterior for any alarm system triggers, they broke into the house through the front door .

The house was neat and clean .

Everything was in order .

'As expected of a military-officer's house . ' (Zack)

"The place is all pretty and untouched . This fam must've evacuated calmly when they heard the news . Or at least when whoever who was an army officer got their orders . " (Chai)

After a second round of checking for any lurking zombies, Chai came down from the second floor .

They huddled up on the Ground Floor's Living Room .

While eating and drinking, Zack highlighted a few things that he observed .

"We have two more Areas to search . Those zombies you saw crowding on the edge of the forest, something must have attracted them there . " (Zack)

He explained that he saw trails of tire marks .

"And I also saw bullet casings . " (Zack)

Chai was silent .

"That 'something' that attracted the horde . It might be your friends?" (Jen) . She asked with a curious voice .

"We don't know that for now . Our options are…either search out the two remaining Residential Areas, or find out what or who if the horde attractors are . " (Chai)

"What's your choice, bro?" (Zack)

Chai chose to find out what attracted the horde . His reason was that detouring would take some more time, not to mention the risk factor is similar .

They still need to avoid zombie groups while moving towards the final two Residential Areas .

"Might as well save time and find out what's there . " (Chai)

"How about you, Jen?" (Zack)

"I'll go with the majority . But if you…choose a different option than Chai, then I'll voice out my answer . " (Jennifer)

Simulations after simulations ran inside Zack's mind . He was trying to find the most optimum way to find his other team members while negating the chance of getting attacked by undead .

"I've decided . " (Zack)

His firm, manly voice possessed a hint of clarity .

***

"Everyone clear? If you noticed something amiss, leave everything behind and run back here!" (Zack)

"Gotcha!" (Chai)

"Okay!" (Jen)

The team's decision is . . . to investigate .

In order to access the surrounded area, they need to lure the zombies away .

Naturally, it was left to the fastest and well, most noisy person of the team .

"HEY STUPID BI***ES, FOLLOW ME YOU USELESS-"

The horde naturally followed Chai's provocation .

The distance between the house and the forest was one kilometer away .

Confirming that the threats were lured away, he carried Jennifer on his back .

Compared to Chai and Zack, her physical capabilities are practically the same with an average human .

Although for Zack and Chai, carrying an average person like her would pose no problems, her endurance however is limited .

Imagine riding a fast motorcycle for a long distance without proper seats or support .

That was the very reason why Jennifer wasn't carried all the way throughout their search for the ladies .

The physical and mental drain would hinder their efficiency and progress .

"Hold on tight, Jen . " (Zack) . His gentle voice reverberated from his vocal cord to her chest .

'So warm . ' (Jen)

DAASHH!

His [Super Strength] made two holes on the road pavement .

Dust and debris were kicked up into the air as a result of Zack's [Super Speed]!

Crossing a distance of over a kilometer, Zack sprinted all the way and arrived at the forest in over a mere two minutes!

Jump!

He found a tall tree with sturdy branches . They could get a higher vantage point .

"Phew! What a workout!" (Zack)

Wiping his sweat while breathing a little harder, he unfastens the firefighters belts that strapped Jennifer to his back .

He gently lowered her on a tree branch .

"Whoa~" (Jen) . She wobbled a little, almost falling down before being held on her waist .

The speed experience made her lost her balance from the inertia force affecting her brain .

"Careful . "

Looking deep into his clear gentle eyes, Jennifer couldn't help but feeling complicated emotions right now .

WOOOOOOAAAARRRGGGHHHHHHH!!!!

The powerful howl immediately snapped them both out of daze .

'Northwest . . . North?'

Zack attuned his senses towards the direction .

'It's . . . actually about two or three kilometers away . '

'None of the walkers I've encountered could release such loud roar . '

He frowned upon pondering who, or what specifically what the creature is .

Little did he and his team knew, that the 'creature' would shift the balance of power on Earth, forever .

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