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Embrace of the Unwanted is the seventh case of the main Trese series and the third of four cases published in Trese: Unreported Murders.

Plot[]

A couple is shown leaving Magna Mall through the basement from a late night screening of Full Moon Massacre. After complaining about the movie's quality and misleading movie reviews from a website, the couple are attacked by a creature hiding in the dark.

Captain Guerrero and Alexandra Trese arrived upon the scene, with Guerrero identifying the dead couple as Marianne de los Santos and Raymond Tomas. Guerrero inquired regarding the possibility of it being the work of a jealous ex-lover, but Alexandra pointed out that the woman's abdomen was too mangled for to be an act of a human. He suggested the manananggal based in Quiapo as possible culprits, but she deemed the basement too confined for their species. She noted that Raymond only got bitten on his throat and crotch, suggesting the attacker merely took the man out to focus on Marianne. A drain was shown with trail of blood leading to it, and Guerrero stated that the maintenance man saw the blood trail all the way to the sewers. Guerrero estimated the pipes to be too small to for a person, but Alexandra thought of a possible suspect who could squeeze through them. She asked Guerrero to keep her up to date with the case and left for her suspect.

She brought the Kambal with her to Robertson Mall, though the twins mistakenly thought they were there for the Midnight Madness Sale. She then asked them to open a High Voltage panel, revealing a secret entrance to the basement. They reached a digitally locked door guarded by armed men, but Alexandra, weary of negotiating to be allowed entry, ordered the Kambal to knock them out.

She tapped the Sinag on the digital panel and uttered an incantation, which opened the door. Inside she found Jeremy Gotianleung, a dragon, that attempted to impress her by flirting with her using a V for Vendetta quote. She asked him for his account of his location during 11 P.M. to midnight, to which Jeremy sarcastically claimed to be at a party with Tim Yap at the embassy. After being threatened, he admitted he was in his room, a glorified cell, which was provided by his father. He pointed out how it was unfair that he kept getting blamed for weird occurrences at malls, citing a brief phase of pulling girls from their dressing rooms in his youth. All the girls were returned safely, with one who was even still in touch with him through email. He found it peculiar that the two deaths were exaggeratingly labelled a massacre by the press.

He reiterated that he didn't go to Magna Mall, with him fearing that his father might cut off his internet if he would get caught. Alexandra asked if anyone else could have done it, and he suggested to go after something that fed upon raw meat. After telling her to stop staring at the bottom and look up, he brought up the architectural plans for Magna Mall, as he had been keeping them for his father. His father, Mr. Gotianleung, arrived at this point, accompanied by bodyguards. Though thankful for Alexandra's help in being discreet regarding Jeremy's situation, he kindly asked her to stop barging in unexpectedly. Alexandra, who emphasized that she would go wherever she wanted whenever she needed to, left with the Kambal.

They stopped by Farmer's Market to ask a hesitant Ernesto, a segben, to help them. She tried to convince him through goodwill as a frequent customer. Ernesto still refused to go with her, in memory of the broken nose and arm he got from helping her that jeopardized his business. By promising that the Kambal will protect him, Alexandra eventually convinced him.

Later at 11:13 P.M., Alexandra brought Ernesto with them to the Basement Level 6 of Magna Mall, having asked Guerrero to clear the civilians beforehand. Ernesto transformed into a big black dog and started scenting the area. He distinctly noted different genders, all young but tinged with rotting meat, disgusting him. He then smelled something in a nearby trashcan, which Alexandra and the Kambal examined, where they found an infant. Basilio made a small quip, prompting the baby to transform into a tiyanak. It lunged for Alexandra, but she stabbed it through its mouth before it could strike her. Ernesto panicked and began searching for an escape, though the Kambal held him back in the belief that there was only one tiyanak. A horde of tiyanak then started crawling down a pillar and lunged for the segben. The Kambal saved him in time and opened fire on the tiyanak. Alexandra then drove up next to them and told them to get in the car. Basilio then opted to sit "shotgun"; he perched on the hood and opened fire on the tiyanak as Alexandra drove through the basement. She called Hank and ordered him to close down the Diabolical and to get her clean up crew to manage the tiyanak in the area.

Later at 10 A.M., Alexandra and the Kambal spent time with Ernesto at the mall's foodcourt. After she told Guerrero over the phone that her clean up crew is still working on the basement, Ernesto explained that there was a common secondary scent among the tiyanak. He could not tell whether it was the shared scent of a common mother, regardless, he still noticed the scent as they sat in the foodcourt. Alexandra recalled Jeremy's words of looking up, and proceeded to head upstairs to Magna Medical.

They went to the office of an OB-GYN named Dr. Petra Gallaga, and Ernesto confirmed that the secondary scent smelled like the office. Alexandra called Jeremy, who confirmed that his father kept tabs on his competitor's tenants, and she asked him for information regarding the doctor. Jeremy discovered that Dr. Gallaga had a sister named Lori who was raped two years ago and died of pregnancy complications, as well as an accumulated order of several gallons of sulfuric acid on her tab. Alexandra immediately called Guerrero, informing him of a possible suspect.

Alexandra and Guerrero entered Dr. Gallaga's office and interrogated her regarding Marienne. She confirmed that she was a patient but denied any involvement in an abortion when asked by Alexandra. Alexandra reminded her of Lori's death, and inferred on how Dr. Gallaga might have botched her abortion and covered it up as caused by complications from her pregnancy. The multiple massive purchases of sulfuric acid was mentioned, and Alexandra concluded that she had been dissolving the aborted babies' remains and dumping them in the basement's garbage. She pointed out that conducted abortions are morally justified when helping victimized women. Alexandra informed her that the fetuses have not been properly contained, and so they have become tiyanak infesting the mall's basement, much to Dr. Gallaga's disbelief. She asked the both of them to leave her office immediately.

Dr. Gallaga's refusal to confess disappointed Guerrero, who turned his hopes to getting a confession from one from her patients, as Alexandra hoped that her -up crew cleared the basement of tiyanak. Dr. Gallaga is then shown in her final moments before being attacked by a leftover tiyanak.

Trivia[]

  • This case is the first to feature the tiyanak in the series.
  • Jeremy is a reference to the urban legend of Robinson Galleria's Snake Man, rumored to pull girls out of the women's dressing room.
  • Dr. Petra Gallaga is a reference to multi-award winning filmmaker Peque Gallaga who directed and co-wrote the 1988 horror film Tiyanak.
  • Magna Mall and Robertson Mall are references to SM Megamall and Robinson's Galleria.
  • The website giving horror movie reviews is author David Hontiveros' blogspot.
  • In the Visprint edition, her incantation is written in Baybayin, spelling out "Buka" in a non-syllabic use of the script.
  • The first and last pages of this comic are parallels of each other, with Petra mirroring the deaths of Marianne and Raymond in the basement.
  • The events of the story are directly referenced in the story The Clinic written by Budjette Tan and Illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo, which was released as part of the Underpass graphic novel anthology.
  • This story was based on Budjette Tan’s old habit of leaving creepy mall basement parking areas in the late evening after watching the last movie showing with friends.
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