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A note from puddles4263

4/7

One thing that Randidly noticed was that there were an absolutely mind-boggling amount of people stuffed into these apartment buildings. Likely, around one thousand a pop. His group alone would clear six of such buildings, with almost 90% of that group moving back towards the designated location. But rather than cheer Randidly up, this chilled him to his core.

Because the number they had been given was 10,000 people that they could save. Randidly estimated that he had already sent 9000 back, and that was just his group. All in all, the 5 groups could bring back 50,000 people, assuming that the areas they moved in were similar sizes. But Randidly had purposefully chosen the least populated area, both because he didn't want to have to interact overmuch with people and because he trusted that he could cover the most ground. At his estimation, by gathering information with Plant Dominance, there was just shy of 80,000 souls in this newly freed up area.

Randidly doubted that he was particularly more inciteful than the officials in the Zone. They would likely have reached a similar number or a near estimate based on census information from pre-System. Yet they had said 10,000.

How many people did they think were going to die here? And they couldn't send more military aid...?

How many people HAD died, in situations like this?

Randidly helped two more condos, one of a couple, another of a 10 person extended family when Sulfur sent out a cry: Level 21.

Fast, too fast.

Randidly used Plant Dominance again, looking for a better picture of what they still needed to do, and discovered several monsters lurking on the side streets, watching the fleeing refugees that followed the military folk. His eyes flashed, and then his whole person rippled, as he used Spearing Roots to simultaneously kill 12 such monsters.

For several seconds, the ripples continued, until the illusion around Randidly finally settled, his identity as Baloo Erickson still intact. But he had felt the edges of it, there.

And also, Aether Detection gave him some insight into what is happening. The glamour around him was simply a powerfully felt image of a person. The Skill left a Mana based medium on Randidly's body, that acted as an anchor to hold the image down and cause other people to see him thus. It wasn't a problem with the medium, Randidly wasn't detecting any weakness from that, despite the passage of time. Bruya certainly knew how to utilize illusions.

BUt Randidly's images for his Skills were so powerful that they were slowly rubbing away at the image that had been left on him to make him appear like Baloo.

Randidly grimaced. Did that mean he had to rely on old Skills like Mana Bolt and Arcane Orb? It might be worth a try, if combat became necessary-

His radio squawked again as Randidly jogged back to the edge of his area to assist in the evacuation of the final apartment building. "Level 25 spotted. Repeat, Level 25 spotted. The support detachment is preparing to disengage. All units, prepare to withdraw. The high-Level monsters will soon arrive."

Randidly's eyes narrowed into slits. Level 25? What happened to-

"I thought they were confident up to Level 30.," Tatiana's quiet reply came. For a second there was silence, and then over the radio, there was a long sigh from Sergeant Phillip.

Ahead of Randidly, there was some trouble as a group of teenager got into a fight with one of Randidly's men. They seemed to be refusing to move, a lot like the old woman had.

Gregory spoke, coming over the line. "If I pull out now... there are probably a couple thousand people just sitting here, twiddling their thumbs. They will all die. I can't go. I'll stay as long as I have to."

Randidly pressed his eyes closed. The problem was the images, right? So as long as he used a Skill that had a weak image, one he hadn't really worked on, he could use it without damaging his illusion overmuch. Plus, it needed to get attention. Although Randidly didn't like it, fear would be best. That would get people moving. Even if they were wildly stampeding, as long as they headed in the right direction, it would work out.

Very quickly, Randidly ran through his Skill list in his mind. Pollen of the Rafflesia? Too dangerous and would likely incapacitate. Magic Missile? No one would even know what they were seeing. Maybe it really just was Arcane Orb to make a splash?

But then Randidly remembered something. He smiled.

"Summon Pestilence."

When Randidly used the Skill originally, he would generally summon it near him, both out of convenience and due to the level of his stats. But he had gained quite a few stats since then, and when he poured his Mana into it this time he summoned the bugs in the sky. At first, it was nothing, just a few dozens, but then it was a dozen dozen, and then hundreds and thousands. The illusion wrapped around him rippled softly, but it was nowhere near the chaotic trembling of before.

Randidly showed his teeth. It really seemed like his illusion was on its last legs. Hopefully, this worked.

Before long there was a low drone as the bulk of the bugs remained in the sky, swirling around each other. A few Randidly brought down, but those were just meant as scouts. When he brought the bugs down, he wanted it to seem like an end of days plague. Only then would he be able to force even the most stubborn out of their homes. Of course, the more bugs he gathered, and the more he imaged what he intended, the stronger the disruption on his illusion was. Randidly grimaced. His Willpower was so high that even a casual image was strong enough to influence it.

So he ceased stockpiling them, and let them descend. The droning quickly rose in volume, becoming something that demanded attention.

Somewhere, a person looked up.

They were the first ones to scream.

Then more and more screams joined as the people realized what was happening. Carefully, Randidly focused his control over them to send the bugs to the windows, up in the high places, then began to apply pressure by throwing bodies against windows. Likely due to his increased Intelligence, even the smaller of the pestilential bugs were the size of a human hand, and the bigger ones rivaled small dogs. When people got a good look at what was trying to get into their house, it was no wonder they fled.

Of course, there were those frozen by fear or those that locked themselves up in a closet to escape, but they were in the minority. Most quickly got to fleeing in the face of the bugs.

"What is that? Someone on the frontline, report!" Sergeant Phillip said, but it seemed most everyone ignored the man. They were all taking advantage of the chaos and momentum these bugs granted them and began moving more people towards safety.

After clearing another condo, Randidly figured most everyone who was going to leave was already leaving. Satisfied, he turned to go, but then noticed a flash of light coming from a condo.

The old woman who refused him earlier had come out onto her porch and had set out at least a dozen hairspray cans. She currently had one can in her left hand, and one of those elongated electric lighters used to light candles in the other.

Calmly, she lit the lighter and sprayed, immolating a dozen bugs that were on her porch. Then she delicately set her tools down and picked up a broom to sweep the carcasses off her porch.

Sighing, Randidly looked up. The droning was almost deafening. It was shaded in this area, due to the number of bugs. Yet this woman believed that she could calmly and methodically eliminate them...? Although Randidly felt a deep loathing for her, he certainly had to respect her resolve.

Wanting to attempt to save her one more time, Randidly started walking towards her condo at a rapid pace. Some of his restraints on his physical stats fell away, and he moved much, much faster than should be possible for a person moving at a walking speed. But when he arrived outside her porch, she was already ready with a quip.

"Foolish bool, put some shoes on! I just swept the pests over that way. You know, if my husband was still alive, he would sit you down and talk to you about the trappings of manhood, but I haven't the time."

Randidly was about to say HE didn't have time for this shit when his face abruptly changed to a serious expression. Without waiting for permission, he vaulted up onto the old woman's porch. It was a small space, and he almost hit her while doing it. Then he stepped forward, scanning his Skill list again.

'Roundhouse Kick will have to do,' Randidly thought.

When the Level 33 Iguana blasted through the wall, it was met with a roundhouse kick. Its fleshy body was more resilient than Randidly expected, so it was just stunned, and he had to move forward and rip its body to shreds with a few Talon Strikes to finish it off. His illusion trembled, but it held.

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