.

.

Chapter 10

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Sunday, August 21, 2016

***

“Make sure nobody can see through your disguises,” sabi ni Naia habang iniinstruct niya kami sa dapat naming gawin. “The hideout 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 nagpeprepare 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 will 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 won’t be coming with us “inside” but he will serve as the watchout and outside attacker, in case anything bad happens. 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 maretrieve 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 can hear is the whistling of the wind. For a wanted Custos agent, this is 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 wants to solve this case by himself but since he’s the director of the CIA and the head of the Custos tribe, he can’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.”

I didn’t answer. Among the agents, he, Jett and Naia are the only ones who can 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 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 am scared. Not only because I’m fighting 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. Kapag kasi ganito ang mission namin, lagi kaming nagbe-bet kung sino ang unang mahuhuli sa disguise namin. Jett can’t participate everytime since he’s our outside specialist, but at the moment, Cliff has the highest number of times blowing his cover. Guess it will 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 encountered the Blacks for a few times, he knows and understands our situation.

The two Blacks were still unconscious and I think Nigel and Kiyoko will 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 as spies, 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 nagprepare 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 notice his presence.

“May nakalimutan ka pa bang sabihin?” Ngumiti lang siya and this time, I can see the tranquility on his eyes.

“Yeah. One more thing.”

“What is it?”

“Don’t lose.”

Just two words. He only said two words but that statement carries 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 no’ng 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 needs a high place to see everything, and at the same time, nobody can see him, so I guess he’ll 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 lies 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 went inside 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’d 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 is 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’re 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. His tall stature, slim body, white skin and on top of it, his face that looks like a skull with bulging eyes, make him creepy.

Buti na lang at lumagpas na kami sa kanya—!

The next thing I knew, my body was slammed against the wall and that creepy guy was holding my neck. I almost blacked out but I willed myself to stay conscious.

“Ehhh . . . not bad. Pero ikaw lang ang tumingin sa akin, at ikaw,” sabay tingin niya rin kay Cliff na nasa likuran niya. “Hindi n’yo ba ako kilala?” he said while smiling.

My mind was racing. I don’t know who he is and there’s no data about him. One wrong answer and it’ll be the end of our mission.

“Ahh!” Napatingin ulit ako sa lalaki. “Ngayon nga lang pala ako nakapunta rito. Ahh . . . kaya pala hindi nila ako kilala,” bulong niya sa sarili niya. “Kaya pala hindi nila ako tinitignan. 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 is still calm but I can tell from his fist that he’s itching to punch this guy. I commend him for not blowing his cover.

This guy. He’s disgusting. His face, his appearance creeps the hell out of me. He gives the impression of a hideous person. Just like a—

“Spider,” I said while looking at his eyes.

Pagkasabi ko no’n ay nagtinginan ang ilang Blacks na nasa paligid. Naramdaman ko ang tension 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. 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.’

Nagsisimula pa lang kami pero may ganito na kaagad na nangyari. We need to be more careful. But I have a feeling that something really bad will happen. I hope I’m wrong.



***