We reached the end of the hallway and it branched out into three more routes. Considering what had happened earlier, we decided to map this building together and plan our next move after consulting with Jett and Naia.

'Let's go here first,' sabi ko at naglakad ako sa right hallway. Sumunod naman sa akin si Cliff.

Habang naglalakad kami ay may nakakasalubong kaming Blacks. Some of them gave strong impressions and chances were, they could be high-numbered viertes.

Bigla naman akong nakaramdam ng sakit sa likod ko. Damn that Spider. I wasn't able to react when he attacked me. Kiyoko was right. We shouldn't underestimate these guys or else, we'd be in danger.

'We need to be careful from now on,' biglang sabi ni Cliff. 'There's still one more dritte lurking around here and I don't want that to happen again.'
'I know,' sabi ko naman. 'I won't let my guard down again. Ink, right? Siya na lang ang hindi natin kilala sa mukha.'
'Yeah. I wonder what their ranks are among the drittes.'
'That, we don't know yet.'

We continued walking until the narrow hallway broadened into a dome-shaped space with three identical doors. The Black we were following entered the middle room so I decided to get into the left one while Cliff chose the room across mine. Pagpasok ko ay saglit akong napatigil dahil mayroong tatlong tao sa loob. They immediately stopped whatever they were doing and looked at me suspiciously.

"What the hell are you doing here?" The guy with the nose-piercing glared at me and the other two eyed me with distaste.

I immediately scanned the room and saw the large monitor they were looking at a while ago. The displayed site was familiar and I realized it was the Death Index, the same site Nigel and Cliff discussed a while ago where they could track and eliminate anyone who were written there.

"Hey! Are you listening?" tanong ng lalaki na malapit sa monitor kaya napatingin ulit ako sa kanila.
"Ah. Sorry, I was lost," I said with an innocent expression.
"This room is for Eleven to Twenty only. State your number," sabi naman ng isa pang lalaki.

Nilibot ko naman ang paningin ko sa kwarto. The room looked like a lobby with a dark theme: maroon couches encircled the huge circular wooden table at the center, black lockers occupied the right side while monitors were placed on the left, and dim lights completed the gloomy ambiance.

"Twenty Four," I replied.
"Then get out. Go to your own chamber."
"Oh, right. Yeah, thank you."

Tumalikod ako at lumabas sa room na 'yon. When I got outside, I checked the door and wall if there were any details for this chamber, and I saw its name—Chamber 11. So he wasn't lying.

Naglakad ako palayo para tingnan din ang ibang kwarto at nakita ko ang division ng numbers. Even the drittes had their own system.

Papasok na sana ako sa kwarto kung nasaan si Cliff pero napatigil ako nang may marinig akong pagbukas ng pinto. When I turned around, I saw one of the guys a while ago leaving the room but he immediately stopped when he noticed me. Coincidentally, Cliff also left the room so the guy glanced at himOur eyes met and before he could say anything, I went inside the middle room.

I was expecting several Blacks inside but nobody was there. It seemed like the Black we followed earlier didn't stay long. Napangiti naman ako dahil sa nangyari kanina. That guy . . . he looked at us, and that was his biggest mistake.

I tapped my right earlobe to activate our communication device.

"Watson, can you hear me?" I whispered.
"Jasmine," sabi naman ni Cliff.

Well, that was our names from our previous mission. That was one of the rules when it comes to spying—you should never use your real name.

"Record," I ordered.
"Great. Wait for my signal."

Sumilip ako sa hallway at mukhang umalis na siya kaya nagsimula na akong kumilos. Before I left the room, I used my animus, and walked confidently toward Chamber 11 as him. Cliff also copied his genetic identity in case we needed it.

Pagkapasok ko ay tumingin ulit sa akin ang dalawang lalaking naiwan sa loob.

"Bakit ka bumalik?" tanong ng isa pero hindi ako nagsalita at naupo lang sa upuan malapit sa monitor.
"I thought you already have someone to catch," sabi ng lalaking may piercing sabay tingin sa monitor.

Oh. So that was the reason why he left.

"Well, I'm going to change my target," I said while looking at the list displayed. Sino kaya ang target ng lalaking 'to sa mga nakasulat?

"Is there anyone better than Sol Dimas, Fifteen?"

So this guy was Fifteen. How about these two? It looked like the guy with piercing had a higher status than the other two because of his imposing character. Bigla naman akong may nakitang papel sa table at naka-address 'yon sa isang number. Maybe that was his codename.

Tiningnan ko naman sa Death Index ang pangalan na sinabi niya. Sol Dimas, huh? I clicked his name and a short profile about him appeared.

Solomon 'Sol' Dimas was a 38-year old mercenary hired by the FBI to track an assassin named Ink. Ink was known in the underground community for organizing the death of a mayor and some accomplices due to an embezzlement case fourteen or fifteen years ago.

Ink? The other dritte who controls this base?

"No," I answered. "Sol has the highest bounty."
"Then why do you want to change your target?" tanong ng isa at bigla kong naaninag ang singsing niya na may nakalagay na Sixteen.
"I just realized you're pushing me to do this because you'd inherit my position once I'm dead," I said and I saw him winced. "How about you do it," sabay tingin ko sa lalaking may piercing, "Twelve?"

Both of them looked at me and I just sat there, browsing other names, in case they asked me. Nagulat naman ako nang biglang tumawa nang mahina si Twelve at naglabas siya ng kutsilyo. Lumayo sa kanya si Sixteen at ako naman ay tinitigan siya.

"I was about to kill you when you said you were going to hunt Sol earlier. But you returned and it seems like you still have some ounce of intelligence in your brain." He moved closer to me and caressed my face with his knife. "You're right," he whispered. "I should be the one to kill that Sol, so that I can be promoted to the highest Numbers, like Ink."

Pagkatapos no'n ay lumayo siya at itinago ulit sa likuran niya ang kutsilyo. Ngumiti siya sa akin at muling tumingin sa monitor.

"I guess the kill is mine," sabi niya at saka tuluyang lumabas sa Chamber.
"That bastard," biglang sabi ni Sixteen at napaupo siya nang nakalabas na si Twelve. "Eleven and Twelve, both of them are too intense. Siguro kaya gusto nilang maging drittes ay dahil nakikita nila ang sarili nila kina Ink, Spider at Dim." Tumingin naman siya sa akin at nag-smirk. "You're lucky he didn't kill you."

Pagkatapos no'n ay lumabas na rin siya sa Chamber at ako na lang ang naiwan dito.

"Are you okay?" Narinig ko naman ang boses ni Cliff sa tenga ko. Naalala ko na nakabukas pala ang communication device ko kaya siguradong narinig niya ang lahat ng nangyari.
"Yeah, though I was this close to slit that guy's throat," sabi ko habang nakahawak pa rin sa dagger na nasa binti ko.
"Good job for controlling that desire."
"Yeah right." In-adjust ko naman ang earrings ko para marinig ko nang maayos si Jett. "Simoun, are you there?"
"Yeah. What's the matter?" sagot naman niya.
"Twelve will be out for a mission. He has a nose piercing and he's about your height. Report it to Nigel and let them tail him. But for now, you're the one who's going to follow him."

Lumabas ako sa Chamber 11 at naabutan ko sa hallway si Cliff. Mayroon ding ilang Blacks na papunta sa rito at pumasok sila sa kani-kanilang Chambers. Four Blacks entered Chamber 11, the room where I just came from, and five went to Chamber 21. Lumapit sa akin si Cliff at sabay kaming naglakad palayo sa Chambers.

'What did you get from that room?' tanong ko habang naglalakad kami.
'It's basically the same. The Death Index is displayed and viertes choose their targets from that. I think the main difference is the list of the names. Chamber 21 only involves lower-ranking officials and agents, and as the level goes higher, the targets become well-known and hard to kill.'
'So that's how it works. But I didn't see any Chamber 1,' sabi ko naman.
'If there's any,' sagot ni Cliff.
'What do you mean?'
'There are only three Chambers here—Chamber 21, 11 and 4.'
'Chamber 4?'
'Yeah. The room you entered before coming back to Chamber 11.'
'Ah. The middle room. Wait, why is it labeled as 4?'

Natahimik naman siya at nagulat ako nang bigla siyang huminto sa paglalakad. Even those Blacks around us stopped moving.

'He's here.'
'What? Who?'

Doon ko lang nagawang tumingin sa harapan at nakita ko na ang sinasabi niya.

"I didn't know you're back, Twenty One."
"Yes, Sir."

A familiar face stood in front of us. It was the guy we saw from the memories of the viertes we caught last night. It was Dim, one of the drittes.

"Where's Twenty Four?" tanong ni Dim kay Cliff. Muntik na akong magsalita pero agad din akong napatigil dahil hindi pala ako si Twenty Four ngayon. I was disguised as Fifteen.
"I think he's still inside the Chamber, Sir."
"Is that so?" For a few seconds ay tahimik lang siya at saglit siyang tumingin sa akin. "Well then, come with me."
"Yes, Sir."

Naglakad sila palayo sa akin at kaagad akong pumasok sa Chamber 4. Good thing the lights were already turned off and nobody was there yet.

I was about to use my animus but I suddenly felt something eerie. With one quick step, I turned around to check the surrounding but before I could even see what was going on, someone had already clasped my neck and pinned my body to the ground with his weight. I tried resisting but I froze when I heard his chuckle.

"I knew it," sabi niya at agad kong nalaman kung sino siya.

It was Spider.

"You know, I love staying in the dark, but something caught my eye," he said while tightening his grip on my neck, hindering my breathing. "A color," sabay hawak niya sa mukha ko.

My mind was racing from endless possibilities of what could possibly happen. I was sure the lenses hid the color of my eyes but I didn't know its effect in darkness. Maybe due to the intense color, it would possible to see it, even with lenses, when the room is too dark.

"You're one of them, aren't you?" he asked and my mind went blank. "What does the underground community call you? Those people who have intensely-colored eyes? Ah."

I couldn't see him clearly but I knew he was grinning by the tone of his voice. Suddenly, I heard the sound of a blade leaving its sheath.

"Chromes," he giggled. "And now I'm about to kill one."