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Chapter 10

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Sunday, August 21, 2016

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"Make sure nobody can see through your disguises," Naia reminded after she finished discussing her plan. "The base of drittes is a bit complicated so don't act rashly, especially you, Nel."
"Roger," I replied. Naia's a perfectionist so she wants everything to be in order and successfully done. I guess all Keepers share that kind of personality.

Pinanood nina Nigel at Naia ang visuals na lumalabas doon sa headgear habang kaming tatlo naman ay nagpe-prepare ng mga gamit namin. It's been a while since our last infiltration and I kind of miss that thrill, especially now that we're dealing with a mysterious and powerful organization. Going inside wpuld definitely not be an easy job.

"How long do I have to wait this time?" tanong ni Jett.
"I couldn't estimate the exact time but at most two to three weeks," Cliff replied.

Jett wouldn't be coming with us "inside" but he would be the watchman and outside attacker, in case anything bad happened. Cliff and I prepared our disguise. We copied the identities of the two viertes who attacked earlier and took their belongings.

Dahil mukhang matagal pa bago nila ma-retrieve sa utak ng Blacks ang information na kailangan namin ay lumabas muna ako sa lugar na 'yon. I surveyed the surroundings and this place really looked like a ghost town. There are no lights besides the moonlight, no people in the vicinity, and the only sound that you could hear was the whistling of the wind that sounded like a vicious howl. For a wanted Custos agent, this was really the best place to stay.

"I really want to solve this case but I can't leave this place."

Bigla kong naalala ang huling pag-uusap namin ni Dad bago ako pumunta sa Pilipinas. I know how much he wanted to solve this case by himself but as the Director of the CIA and the Commander of the Custos tribe, he couldn't just leave his position because of his personal desires.

"Are you sure about this?" Narinig ko ang boses ni Cliff sa likuran pero hindi ako lumingon.
"I have no choice."
"But it seems like you're rushing everything," he said and for a second, he reminded me of Ulysses, one of our instructors during the Academy days.

I didn't answer. Among the agents, he, Jett and Naia were the only ones who could read my expressions even without hearing my patheia. They know me too well and I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

"Of course I am," sabi ko at lumingon ako sa kanya. "A chance like this may not come again in the future so I have to do this right now. I want to know what happened to my mother back then, and the only way to do that is going inside that organization."

But in reality, I was scared. Not only because I had to fight against a powerful organization, but also finding the truth about my mother's and other Erityians' death.

"So, what's your bet?" tanong niya at pagtingin ko ay nakangiti na siya. Trying to lighten up the mood, huh?
"You. Three days," I said while pointing at him.
"Call. One week." Nagulat naman ako sa bet niya. One week?! That's too long!
"What?! Are you serious?"
"Losing your confidence?" he smirked. Damn this guy.
"Hell, no. I'm sure you'll lose."
"We'll see," sabi niya at tumalikod na siya.

Napabuntong-hininga naman ako pagkatapos no'n. Whenever we have missions like this, we would always bet who would be the first one to blow his or her cover. Jett couldn't participate every time but at the moment, Cliff had the highest number of times getting caught. Guess it would be him again.

***

"Right now, we only have minimal information about them so it's really risky to sneak into the organization," sabi ni Nigel habang nakatingin sa aming tatlo. "Listen to your Keeper well, or you'll end up dead."

A warning coming from him really made an impact since he had encountered those Blacks for a few times and he understood our situation.

The two Blacks were still unconscious and I was sure Nigel and Kiyoko would leech off any information from them. Before they know what's going on, we need to act immediately.

"These are specialized lenses," sabi ni Kiyoko at inabot niya sa amin ang lense holder. "Aside from hiding the color of your eyes, you can also see the information we provided on that. Words and photos will appear right in front of your eyes and nobody can see or read it except you."
"In addition," dagdag ni Nigel at may inabot din siya sa amin. "Take this pair of camouflage earrings. Like the normal earrings we use in espionage, you can hear your team using that. However, this one will disappear from other's sight and will blend into the skin of your ears. We need to be careful around them so this is just a precaution."

Inabot nila ang mga devices na pwede naming magamit at sinuot agad naming tatlo ang lenses at earrings. Dinouble-check din namin ang mga gamit namin at after that ay naghanda na kami para umalis.

Pagpatak ng 4 AM ay umalis na kami mula sa hideout ni Nigel. Dumiretso sina Cliff at Jett para ihanda ang kotse habang ako ay naiwan sa labas para maghintay.

"Penelope." Nagulat naman ako sa tumawag at paglingon ko ay nasa likuran ko na si Nigel. I didn't even feel his presence.

I remembered what our Strategies and Tactics instructor told us when it comes to team plans. She said that in assigning positions in a team, the Keeper should always be the most unnoticeable member as that would effectively increase the team's chance of survival. We had an activity before where all of the agents had to enter the Phantom Forest, a place where creatures could feel even a trace of your presence. For those who wanted to be a Keeper, he or she should only be detected at most thrice. Frontliners and wingpersons usually score double or even triple digits while Specialists and Keepers should score as low as nine and three, respectively.

I tried it and my result was fifty six while Naia managed to keep it to two. Few got one and they were considered as elite Keepers, usually promoted as the Special Ops' operators. However, according to Dad, there were rare cases in which a person could get out of the forest undetected and had the chance to witness that when Yue Lambert, our Strategies and Tactics instructor, strolled the forest with a zero mark. At the moment, she's the best Keeper we have and one of Dad's trusted Executives, along with Dale and others.

"Penelope?"

My mind returned to the present when he called my name again.

"Oh, sorry. May nakalimutan ka pa bang sabihin?" tanong ko. He just smiled and this time, I could see the tranquility in his eyes.
"Yeah. One more thing."
"What is it?"
"Don't lose."

Just two words. He only said two words but I could feel the weight of that statement, as if it carried a lot of burden and pressure.

"I failed as a Keeper and a comrade. I still can't forgive myself from what had happened," sabay yuko niya pero pinilit niyang ngumiti nang tumingin ulit siya sa akin. "Your team is great, so I know that you can turn Nox upside down. Good luck."

Pagkatapos niyang sabihin 'yon ay naglakad na siya palayo sa akin hanggang sa makapasok siya sa basement. Sakto namang pagkapasok niya ay narinig ko ang engine ng sasakyan. Huminto ang kotse sa harapan ko kaya sumakay ako sa backseat.

"You ready?" tanong ni Cliff at ngumiti lang ako.
"Of course," I said while transforming into a Nox member. Cliff also wore his disguise while Jett quietly drove the car to our destination.

Starting today, I am Twenty Four, a vierte under Dim.

***

According to Nigel and Naia, the viertes are called by numbers. We don't know the exact number of them but they said there might be 50-100 members. Those viertes are doing missions given by the dritte assigned to them. Dim, Spider and Ink are the drittes handling the viertes with the codenames One to Thirty. Cliff and I fall under them, but we only know Dim, thanks to the head gear. I hope we have any information and data, even a little, about Spider and Ink.

"I think here will be fine," sabi ni Jett kaya naman bumaba na kami ni Cliff.
"Stay alert. We'll contact you."
"Roger."

Pinaandar ulit ni Jett ang kotse para maghanap ng parking lot at mukhang dito siya lulugar. He needed a high place to see everything, and at the same time, where nobody could see him, so I guess he'd be staying at the top of this building.

Naglakad naman kami ni Cliff papunta sa isang factory. Who would have thought that inside this factory would be one of the bases of Blacks? Some men dressed in black were roaming around the vicinity of the factory and when they saw us, they just nodded. Sinundan namin ang isa sa kanila na mukhang papasok sa loob ng building.

May nagflash na image sa mga mata ko at nakita kong tinatapat ng Blacks sa sensor ang parte ng katawan nila kung nasaan ang tattoo. Good thing ay nahanap nina Kiyoko ang tattoo ng dalawa at sinabi sa amin. Sa main entrance ay may tinatap na ID ang employees sa sensored gate kaya naman kinuha ko kaagad ang ID sa bulsa ko. We tapped it on the sensor and we easily sneaked into the building.

Ordinaryong factory lang ang loob kaya naman hindi na kami nag-aksaya ng panahon doon. Sinundan namin ang Black na naglalakad papunta sa elevator, at bago niya 'yon maisara ay pumasok kami.

"Oh. Twenty One and Twenty Four," sabi ng lalaking nakasabay namin. Judging by the size of his body, this guy has immense physical strength. The elevator felt so small because of him.
"Nineteen," sabi ni Cliff kaya napatingin ako sa kanya.
'How did you know him?'
'The tattoo on his thumb.' Napatingin naman ako sa kamay ng lalaki at may 19 nga na nakalagay roon. 'Guess he's too obsessed with his number.'

"Huh?!" Nagulat naman ako nang biglang sumigaw ang lalaki at tumingin nang masama sa amin. "Nineteen?!"
'Hey, he's not Nineteen!'
'Shit. No way.'
"Hah!" Napatigil naman ako dahil sa bigla niyang pagtawa. What the hell was wrong with this baboon? "Hindi n'yo pa nga pala alam. Eighteen died so that means his position is mine," sabay tawa niya ulit.
"Then why did you mark yourself with 19?" sabi ni Cliff sabay turo sa kamay niya. "You're still stupid . . . Eighteen."
"Anong sabi mo?!"

Bago pa may masabi ang lalaki ay bumukas na ang elevator at agad kaming umalis ni Cliff. He already mastered the personality of Twenty One. As expected.

Pagkarating namin sa dulo ng hallway ay may isa ulit sensored gate. Dahil sa images na nagflash kanina ay alam na namin ang dapat gawin. Itinapat ko ang batok ko habang si Cliff ay ang binti niya. The door opened. Pumasok agad kami at mas marami nang Blacks ang nandito. We were in their territory.

Ang daming Blacks na naglalakad kaya naman ginaya ko kaagad ang expression ni Twenty Four. Napatingin naman ako sa isang lalaki na naglalakad sa kabilang direksyon. He was tall, maybe around two meters, and he looked like a albino snake because of his slim body and pale skin. But what disturbed me the most was his face. It seemed like the skin on his face was as thin as paper, making his facial bones more defined, as if it was just a skull with bulging eyes.

We were already few steps away from him when I suddenly felt a chill. The next thing I knew, my body was already slammed against the wall, the creepy guy holding my neck. I almost blacked out because of the impact but I willed myself to stay conscious.

"Ehhh . . . not bad. Both of you looked straight into my eyes," he said in a slow manner. Cliff was standing behind him, about to get his weapon but I ordered him not to. "Don't you know me?" he asked as he showed his horrifying smile.

My mind was racing. I didn't have any idea who he was and there was no data about him. One wrong answer and it'd be the end of our mission.

"Ahh!" He exclaimed as if he just realized something. "Ngayon nga lang pala ako nakapunta rito. Ahh . . . kaya pala hindi nila ako kilala," bulong niya sa sarili niya. "Kaya pala hindi nila ako tinitingnan. But these two . . . oohh. I want them."

Bigla naman siyang tumawa at binitiwan niya ang leeg ko. I gasped for air and Cliff stood beside me. His expression was still calm but I could tell from his fist that he was itching to punch this guy. I commended him for not blowing his cover.

This guy. He was disgusting. His face, his appearance terrified the hell out of me. He gave the impression of a hideous person. Just like a—

"Spider," I muttered while looking at his eyes.

Pagkasabi ko no'n ay nagtinginan ang ilang Blacks na nasa paligid. Naramdaman ko ang tensyon sa paligid at ang ilang Blacks ay hindi nakagalaw sa kinatatayuan nila.

"You're Spider, aren't you?"

Hindi niya ako sinagot at tumawa lang siya habang naglakad palayo sa amin
Hindi niya ako sinagot at tumawa lang siya habang naglakad palayo sa amin. Gaya ng ginawa niya sa akin, kinalaban niya rin ang viertes na nadadaanan niya, at halos lahat sa kanila ay nawalan ng malay.

'You okay?' tanong ni Cliff at dahan-dahan akong tumayo.
'Yeah. But thanks to that, nalaman natin kung sino siya.'
'Spider, huh? It fits him well.'

It seemed like our mission this time would be a lot more difficult than our previous ones.



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