"Did you save a lot of people? Is the whole town population higher on the first week of the apocalypse or did you guys lose some?" Jun asked.
Matteo pondered from a brief moment and relived the first week of the apocalypse. All the fighting. all the chaos.
"All that I could say is we managed to save a lot of people while also losing some. I heard Edward's version of how things happened in your town. What you managed to achieve, those were excellent achievements. Unlike from Binangonan, we only encountered those "evolved carriers" as you guys call it, on the first week."
"Our town had eight barangays separated by plains and were too far from each other. The barangay that had a bustling business center where most of the crowd gather always had heavy-traffic. When things happened, the most terrible thing that occurred was traffic accidents. Cars nudging each other, drivers losing consciousness for a second and waking up with their bumpers rammed onto someone else's rear. No one died at the start and people just got injured."
"Then how did you lose so many people?"
"The problem came from private and public hospitals. I heard from other barangays that some old orphanage and retirement homes were one of the places were the monsters first appeared. Most of the people died from getting killed by zombies and everything else fell like dominoes. Other barangay who remained on their places had fewer population than us and has slightly better living standard than us."
After hearing the truth of the town, Jun started to machinate his plans.
"I'll give you your first task. Get rid of the leeches. Kick them out and you'll have until tomorrow. I don't need people who don't want to work yet still expect to be fed. You don't need to convince anyone to stay. The more people that live, the better. Pay attention to those old farmers, I want them. Also, take this, you might need to arm your trusted people."
A series of clanging metallic sound resounded in the room. Three metal swords and five bone swords dropped on the ground.
"That's all for now. If you accomplish with good results, I'll give you a surprise tomorrow."
Jun and Edward exited the room. They walked along the hallway and headed downstairs towards the lobby.
"I'm sorry for doubting you," Edward said without looking at Jun.
"It's fine. I'm at fault too." Jun gazed at the back of Edward's head, but the teenager doesn't even have the courage to look back.
"I guess I became a bit sensitive since I knew the person."
"That's a normal reaction. I would have done worst if I were you, to be honest."
Edward then scratched his head and turned around. He had this embarrassed face while trying his best to say something.
"I understand now why you acted like that and why you needed to. I hope you can trust and forgive me about this blunder." Edward said and bowed.
"I already told you it's fine. I should have told you in advance but I didn't get the chance. I noticed that people were overreacting to see any kind of food. Your acquaintance and his friends reacted strangely when you gave him food. I also learned about the food situation when I chatted with the secretary earlier. I just used that information to my advantage. Well, now that I think about it, I'm actually getting annoyed that you don't trust me. Mhmm."
"Forgive me, Brother Jun!" Edward bowed then took something from his dimensional storage. "I'll gift this low tier energy stone to you as a sign of my apology."
"Then, I'll take it." Jun grabbed the energy stone without hesitation. However, something strange happened, the energy stone won't budge from Edward's hand. "I said I'll accept your sign of apology."
"Brother Jun, I know that you're a magnanimous person and would never take things from his little brothers."
"I need it! Give it now!"
In the end, Jun reigned supreme and successfully retrieved the energy stone by taking one finger at a time.
The "cooperation" was deemed successful and no one from the group knew what transpired on the chairman's office.
The group toured around the place with the chairman's secretary as their guide. They visited the portal statue and absorb the town's portal rune.
When the Elites first arrive at this barangay, the first thing they did was to absorb the portal rune. It didn't take much to convince Matteo at that time since the portal repair knowledge was traded for it. It could also be attributed that the place was Edward's hometown as to why they shared the repair secret.
They didn't realize that they just gave away the knowledge of using energy freely.
There wasn't much place to visit or to look at. If there was one, it should be one of the dungeons in town, the Landmark Church.
"The most notable landmark of the town, built by a Chinese craftsman during the arrival of the first Spanish priest. It is known for its unique and intricate neo-baroque style design and its three-story belfry as its facade. The church was half church and half school that strangely transformed into a dungeon. The monsters inside were priest lecturers saying mantras at you, until you get dizzy and sent out.
"The priest lecturers inside don't kill you. They only send you out after some time, or when you answer their questions incorrectly. It's a weird dungeon that specializes in teaching you about modern school subjects. No one has gotten a question right ever since we discovered it. It's as if we're not meant to answer them."
Jun stared at the church in front of him. According to the secretary, the main gate of the school was locked and people who tried to climb over were captured by priest lecturers and tortured to study until they pass out.
"Would you like to try? There would be no problem as long as we drag you out before you pass out." the secretary said.
Jun feeling adventurous smiled. "Alright, no harm is done if I try."
The secretary placed two hands over her mouth and shouted, "I heard they stretch the difficulty to the utmost possible! Good luck!"
Jun stood in front of the priest lecturer. It had the common priest robe but wore a full face mask that hid the entirety of its face. He could see wrinkled and slightly dried out skin from the neck and hands of the lecturer.
The lecturer raised his arm and pointed at Jun.
["For all real numbers b and c such that the product of c and 3 is b, which of the following expressions represents the sum of c and 3 in terms of b ?]
Jun didn't even wait for the multiple choices to appear and immediately ran out of the church.
That scared me!
What was that?!
I'm a high school drop out, don't do things like these to me, it's not even funny!
The secretary, "You're back so fast?"
Jun ignored her and walked away.
Matteo was busily implementing his new idea. He gathered his trusted aides and supplied them with swords. His plan requires brute-force and he needs the people to hate him.
It was the only plan he could come up with and he plans to proceed with it.
A large recruitment campaign was launched. Every able-bodied men and woman were conscripted for a wide scavenging operation that would occur the next day.
Individuals who were caught hiding, or neglecting their responsibilities would be imprisoned for three days without food.
The aim of the operation was to gather enough food for everyone. The recruited individuals would gather at the town plaza and would scour plains and forest for animals and wild plants.
After the news of the campaign spread out among the populace, the townspeople went mad.
All kinds of negative things were spoken by the people.
At this time, a sliver of good news spread like wildfire. Antipolo, the city up north, was rumored to be accepting survivors from all over the place. There were walls that protected the city and food has never run out even once.
Matteo thanked the heavens when he realized that people were considering risking the travel. Large groups of an expedition to the north were being formed at great speed.
I can't believe it! My plan is working! I have no idea where that rumor came from, but it came at the right timing!
Jun was eating snacks together with the group as they toured around the streets. He chatted with the secretary about Antipolo City while trying to forget the unpleasant memory the lecturer gave him.
His loud voice allowed nearby people of the promised land up north.
Jun heard of the scavenging campaign that Matteo thought of. It was quite decent for making people want to leave but not perfect enough.
Actually, it was a bit idiotic and could even backfire, if not resolved properly.
Although people hate being oppressed and being told what to do.
What they hate most was missing on something good that is actually free.
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