'He's not here.'
That was what she confirmed after roaming her eyes around thrice.
However, this thought only made her frown as she couldn't feel the dangerous aura in the air receding. It was still there, tingling at her senses. Because of this, she couldn't help but materialize the protective device in the hand that secretly reached inside her pocket, her right forefinger already tracing the button. At the slightest spark of anything deadly, she would not hesitate to press it!
A second later her hunch was proven correct!
What she was expecting finally came true. However, instead of everyone aiming senselessly at the wall, they pointed their gun's muzzles at her simultaneously! Her expression immediately darkened as this confirmed that Leo was not the one targeting her today. There was no way that kid would let others make an attempt to her life! He had always played around with her people, making them deliver all sorts of weird messages and gifts to her, but he never manipulated them into killing her!
<System: ...This is what you get for always assuming that it's only Leo Jones you should watch out for.>
Aware of who the only other hostile host was, she irritatedly asked back, '...Did you slack off again? How did she know this location? She's not supposed to be able to inquire anything about me, right?'
<System: Heh, who knows? Maybe she already collected enough points to cancel it, or maybe Gio has personally made a move and raided every shady looking place in this country. The latter is more likely, of course. By the way, why are you still calm? Shouldn't you be fleeing now?>
Clarissa sneered and activated her Mind-Control. The reason she still hasn't pressed the button yet was her belief that no matter how high Sofony Mendez' Hypnosis skill was, there was no way that woman could absolutely control those implanted with a 'seed' long ago! Even the teleporter kid could at most make his hypnosis last for a minute! If ever Sofony could, it would surely last for tens of seconds only!
"Snap out of it, you fools!" she shouted as she connected to the 'seeds'. "You're all so brave now, huh? You want to kill your lady boss?"
The man in the white dress shirt confusedly looked around, puzzled why the crazily laughing bunch were still pointing their guns at Clarissa even after she said her disguised warning. He also yelled, "Hey, b*tches and bastards! What are you all doing! It's the Lady Boss!"
Clarissa immediately clicked her tongue as she felt no feedback from the 'seeds'. She was initially quite in a state of disbelief but was now more annoyed.
'She found a way to enthrall my people?' Watching the infuriating expression from the faces of these twenty plus armed men and women, she narrowed her eyes, 'Does it mean everyone here is already hypnotized to encircle and shoot me to death?'
<System: You keep underestimating her. I think this is what you get for forgetting that she's half the reason why you and your forces ended up vulnerable to Leo Jones and Gio Albarez' attacks.>
She chose to shut up and dashed forward to the nearest goon, intent on breaking through him and leaving the encirclement. At the same time, she started exchanging bullets with some of the guys already firing at her. Clarissa did this after recognizing that she was indeed trapped and that escaping should be her utmost priority.
'Is she here?' she asked after looking around again. She didn't see even the silhouette of that woman. But knowing every host could change faces whenever they want, she tried to confirm from the system whether Sofony Mendez was really not present.
<System: How would I know?>
To this forehead-vein-popping response, Clarissa couldn't help but say, 'Really useless...'
Not even ten seconds had passed since the beginning of their encirclement.
"Bang! Bang! Bang!"
She was surprised to see the one she targeted easily dodging her shots, wondering if this particular muscular scarface had always been this agile.
'Something seems wrong here,' she grimly thought when she realized almost everyone she tried to shoot down managed to dodge her. In her memories, despite being good in battle, everybody was still a level below her. None of them could even defend themselves against her kick properly. When did everyone start to learn how to guard themselves against bullets? Or was she the one whose skills had regressed? Was this why she could hardly hit them now?
"Leader, let me help you!" shouted Vien who was now making way to her side even though he was barehanded.
That time, Clarissa was busy swinging a fist to her target so she didn't see how none of the stray shots hit 'Vien'. If she saw it, she would definitely suspect how an average member could suddenly do something only she, Aljur and some trusted elite subordinates could.
"Hey, Green! You as well, Valentine! What's the matter with you all?!!!"
The big guy who he referred to as Valentine laughed and loudly announced, "All of us simply want her life! That's all! Hahahaha!"
"You're all crazy! Stop now while Lady Boss has yet to kill anyone from you all! Everyone, stop!!!"
Just when that Vien's words echoed near her, the first person he named suddenly threw a grenade at her.
Actually, this was inaccurate. Everyone else did! It was like the man's last word was actually a signal because even Vien who acted as if he was the only sane guy remaining threw one above her. And she only didn't see it because he was behind her! It was due to this that although she was one hundred percent sure that everyone else was 'controlled', she had not properly considered whether Vien was too.
Immediately, the whole place became more chaotic and scarily noisier than before.
Clarissa's eyes darkened as she quickly activated the barrier. She was barely controlling the anger that welled up within her as she shielded her eyes and ears from the glaring light and deafening noise.
Time passed and the aftereffects of the explosion finally subsided.
Now, the girl's chest was violently heaving up and down. Anger was evident from her eyes, face, and voice when she swore, "Damn wastes of space! All of you are so dead after this!!! Just you wait!!!"
The deafening and mind-numbing sounds of the gunshots suddenly stopped.
All of a sudden, a familiar female voice echoed from the doorway and Clarissa wondered if it was her illusion that they did in order to let her hear that irritatingly soft and calm voice.
"Wrong, Clarissa Guzman," said the long-haired woman who just entered the hall wearing a black dress that reached just above her knees.
As Clarissa saw the expressionless face of the other, she couldn't stop herself from hatefully muttering her name, her disturbingly fiery and murderous gaze focused on the woman that she temporarily didn't notice the man escorting her,
A couple of seconds later, without taking her eyes off of Sofony, she managed to force a laugh,
"As expected... It's you! You opportunist whore! But congratulations, b*tch! For the second time around, you actually forced me to hide under a barrier!"
The other acted as if she seemingly did not hear the sarcastic and heavily-stressed words Clarissa said nor see the terrifyingly murderous glares she started giving her. Sofony was obviously watching her tremble in anger, but no other emotion showed from the girl's face.
However, the girl did meet her eyes. Those pair of orbs when observed closely were actually more beautiful than hers and they stared at her in neither cold nor triumphant manner. When Sofony asked Clarissa, there was not even a hint of a smile on her lips even though the current moment was the best time to show it.
"My senior... how's our surprise? Let me guess what's currently on your mind. Are you perhaps thinking that only you have the rights to drive someone else mad with helplessness and rage?"
Humiliation suddenly crept into Clarissa's heart and all she wanted to do is charge out of the barrier and hack the other host to death! Of course, she recognized that it was Leo's skill disturbing her calmness again hence after unwillingly looking away from Sofony, she began chanting her calming mantra.
She repeatedly reminded herself that she was inside the barrier. Just like how she wouldn't be able to attack the lower-leveled b*tch, Sofony also wouldn't be able to do anything within thirty minutes because no attack from the outside would ever reach her! This was why she deemed it better to pacify her out-of-control emotions first.
Unfortunately, as Clarissa tried to regain her composure, the eye movements from that someone behind the other girl escaped her notice. She became too trusting of her barrier hence a certain possibility never crossed her mind. This was why when something suddenly got swung her way, the abruptness of the attack and the close proximity of the attacker did not give her enough time to react and avoid it!
She was suddenly stunned! The calmness she was trying to build up immediately flew away as she labored to turn her head to the side. Just when her mind was asking what happened and who it was, a man's face registered in her now widely opened eyes.
It was that person who she thought was not part of the hypnotized bunch.
Before the one asked answered, he first let her watch as the bloodied tip of the long knife disappeared from her left chest as it got pulled out from her back.
She then heard the man said in a manner akin to a secretary or employee reporting perfunctorily to his boss, "Miss Sofony told me the poison coated in the blade is enough to incapacitate you, but it won't kill you. By the way, I am the one tasked to do the stabbing because I'm strong enough to let the young miss see the knife stabbed from the back stick out in front."
"Though actually, anyone from the team could do this..."
Clarissa could feel her strength being rapidly drained so she hardly cared anymore to the last part which merely sounded like a man's grumble. The images moving in front of her started to get blurry in her eyes. However, she still held on to her consciousness and glared daggers to the person who should not be next to her, "...Vien... you traitor! How did... you get inside?"
Despite his average looking figure gradually turning unclear, she still made out his eyes indifferently looking at her. In an uncaring attitude and a matter-of-fact tone, he answered, "My name is George, not Vien. I'm not a traitor because I am never your underling in the first place, and I got inside this invisible enclosure through running to your side before the grenades exploded. Hopefully, my answers are to your satisfaction."
Not long after, before she fell unconscious on the cold cement floor, Sofony's voice which still sounded low and calm reverberated throughout the place, echoing clearly in the hall due to the lack of any sound hindering or overlapping with it.
"...You are wrong Clarissa," she began.
"No one will be dying tonight. You too won't be dying any time soon."
"For separating me forever from Steffy and Wendy, I'll make sure your remaining days will be torturous to both your mind and body..."