The sun has finally risen and showered energy to everyone with life. The crowing of a rooster from a nearby town alerted the still sleepy soldiers who were about to change shifts.
A multi-storied building on the Rotunda Tikling was used as the base of operations for the outpost. Giant reinforced walls were used as blockades on the streets while numerous soldiers come and go by squads in different directions. Some were walking on patrol while others ride transport vehicles to move to their target locations.
The immediate vicinity was, of course, already cleared of the threats and the patrols were mainly for stragglers or survivors that tries to sneak in. Survivors weren't forbidden to enter the outpost—everyone can. They just have to go under extreme investigation and identity verification.
Inside the commanding officer's room...
"Yes, sir. I understand. I will free them right now. I will help them as much as I can and make sure that they got everything they need."
The sergeant bowed profusely after he got severely scolded earlier.
When the sergeant left the room, the outpost's commanding officer sighed and shook his head. The man had numerous wrinkles on his forehead but still had lively eyes filled with enthusiasm. Those wrinkles symbolized the hardships he went through on his career.
The middle-aged officer picked up the phone lying on the table. The phone has been working again despite having a slow connection, sometimes even none.
"Is that okay with you?"
"I asked you to punish the person but look at what you did. You're still so soft even after all these years, my friend."
"Not everyone has talent like you, Paul. I need to keep my subordinates on the right amount of fear so they won't cause trouble. By the way, I haven't seen you for a long time. We should chat over dinner sometime. I'm sure the kids would love it."
"My platoon's still trying to pave the way to the capital. We lost communications with the Presidential Security Guards two weeks ago. The higher-ups are feeling antsy about the situation so they'll give me a regiment this time. And about the kids, please stop being a match-maker, it doesn't suit you."
"Pah. You can dictate your daughter but I can't matchmake my own son? By the way, are you allowed to tell that information to me?"
"I'm not sure... but you've already heard it so you'll have to help me."
"Haa... you still have that bad habit of yours, forcing people to play with your cards. Although I'm willing to help, there's only around four-hundred armed forces here. I have it rough distributing forces to where they need to be. Pasig is overrun, Quezon City is no better. There's even a rebellion happening at Taytay, one of the towns nearby. It's quite serious if you ask me. They live like they don't care about their lives. I heard that a cult was founded there. Things are getting really scary."
"Cults... Alright, I have to go. It's about time and I need to brief my boys up. I'll be calling you if we need some help. We're blitzing up north and hopes that could use the east exit if things get too crowded. Can you clear the eastern area?"
"Sure, sure. I don't have the manpower to send reinforcements but if t's just creating an escape route, I can do that."
"Thanks, bud. Let's chat next time."
The smile on the middle-aged officer disappeared. The two were classmates at the military academy and assigned as partners. They received a lot of achievements after helping stabilize the country. Due to war injuries, he couldn't fight anymore and was assigned desk duties allowing Paul to further his career. He tried his best to impress the people above but being on desk-duty had its limits. He was a rank below Paul despite his perfect records on counter-terrorism, planning communist stronghold's search and destroy operations, guerilla warfare with the New People's Army, and other distinguishable merits.
Even though he gets the most credit, it couldn't be helped since he was still fighting from the back. The people fighting the war were the ones taking the limelight and he chose to accept it and gave the opportunity to the young ones.
He also had been trying to set up his dolt of a son to marry into the Celestine family that has a strong influence, but it seems the rumor about the Celestine family and the Mestreet family having an engagement together was true.
He could still try his chance with Paul since they were buddies and considering that both of them only rose in ranks because of their abilities, there must be some sort of understanding.
But the Mestreet family came up to the picture and everything was gone.
The Mestreet family has a deeply rooted military background. Their lineage became well-known during the first and second world war. They became dubbed as the finest men among man, the men who makes death himself flee in horror. There were two results when they charged the enemy, its either they come back victorious or never come back at all.
And most of the time, they came back.
The middle-aged man seemed to have aged a bit after one phone call.
He sighed deeply and reminisced. If he wasn't shot in the back of the knee, could he still adventure beside his friend? Thinking about this, he couldn't help but massage his knee.
As he was massaging his knee, the phone rang again. He saw the caller was Paul, so he answered grumpily forgetting that he should have been friendly.
"If you need anything else, just look for me, okay? You can find me at the overpass over there. See you next time!" the sergeant ran off after giving a tour of the outpost to Carl's group.
Upon learning that the one he tied up and threw at some random makeshift jail was a real Colonel, the man couldn't help but feel anxious. He worried about his life and position in the army.
Although nothing too bad might happen, a simple demotion or hindrance could stop him from achieving a higher rank. Especially at this time, were ranks were given out to those who work for it.
He would be satisfied if he could reach the rank of lieutenant and retire peacefully. Heck, even a captain or major shouldn't be a problem if he fought valiantly. It was always nice to dream of the future.
The group stood at the sidewalk.
Jun who got ignored the whole time for being a civilian finally spoke. He waited until the sergeant could no longer hear them before speaking.
"So what are we going to do now? The caravan only stopped here to restock and continued to Antipolo. It's safe there, right?"
"Yeah, it's easy now that our identities are verified. I just need to make contact with retired-General Basilio so he can help us enter Antipolo."
Carl noticed Jun's confusion so he explained.
"Antipolo has tighter security and survivors go under extreme scrutiny before they could enter. Even if they managed to enter, everyone would be under surveillance for a period of time until the topbrass decides they're not terrorists."
Jun said. "How do they even investigate that?"
With a wry smile, Carl replied. "To be honest, I don't even know."
"Stay at the canteen and get some food. I'll be back after making some calls."
Carl turned and was about to go to the administration building but Jun uttered something which made him quickly turn around.
"I can't go with you," Jun said with disappointment. He apologized to Carl with his eyes and turned around.
"Wait, wait. What do you mean? I'll just have to call someone then we're good to go. Can't you wait for a bit more time?"
"No. I'm sorry, but I've already wasted too much time."
Carl couldn't understand what was happening. Weren't everything going accordingly? They follow the caravan as fast as possible, so he could bring Jun to General Basilio. Did he learn of his plan?
Carl grabbed Jun's shoulder to stop him from walking but Jun was able to shove his hand away. Carl tried a few more times to no avail. He noticed the soldiers watching them and felt humiliated.
Out of anger, he pulled a pistol from his dimensional storage and aimed at Jun's legs.
"Stop! I'm telling you right now, if you don't stop, I'll have to shoot you." Carl said while grinding his teeth.
Jun stopped, then turned around. He knew for a long time that Carl isn't on his side. IT only happened that they needed each other to achieve their goals. The only reason he hasn't retaliate were from the times that his nametag was green, even though it was black now.
He stared at Carl with deadpan eyes. Carl's subordinates behind were conflicted on what to do about the situation, and more soldiers noticed the situation.
Jun didn't care about being surrounded and nonchalantly asked Carl.
"What is it?"
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