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When the Huayang base door appeared before Lian Hua’s eyes, Lian wanted to cry. Xiao Ze took them in the opposite direction and they walked for about half a day before they saw the three meter walls of Huayang base. The walls were constructed after the apocalypse, which meant it was half a year ago. Since then, basic systems and various bases sprouted out of the ground like bamboo after rain. Transportation had been somewhat re-established too.
They must’ve been way off-track to walk so long without bumping into a gatherer or hunter. How cruel…
“Thank you so much, bro.” Patting Xiao Ze’s shoulder, Lian Hua was truly grateful to this young man.
Xiao Ze scratched his head and chuckled. “It’s nothing. Anyone could find this base.”
Everyone else: “…” So we aren’t “anyone”?
Perhaps feeling the mood was off, Xiao Ze saluted with his palms pressed together. “Thank you for rescuing me and giving me food, I am grateful forever. I have matters to attend to, so I’ll be heading out now.”
Whoosh, he was gone.
Everyone: “…Wow, he ran off quickly.”
“Great! We’ve finally found the base, big bro.” The little girl among their party was overjoyed.
Glancing at the tattered clothes the kids were wearing, Lian Hua made a mental note to buy new clothes when they got inside of the base. Zhao Xiaolong had complained about the grass patch on his bum many times already.
Several soldiers were guarding the gates. There were two gates: one was clearly high level, with big cars moving in and out that were driven by people with special abilities or their families. The other one was far smaller and had a queue out the front. Each of the people was skinny and pale, clearly a group of refugees.
Lian Hua grabbed the kids and went to the small gate.
“Remember what I told you on the road?” He asked.
“Remember not to reveal your true abilities, don’t fight, don’t cause trouble, hold back when you can, and if you can’t find a hidden place to get rid of them and destroy the body.” Zhao Xiaolong recited.
The He siblings nodded.
“You two need to hide your faces. Before you have enough strength, you don’t want anyone to notice you.”
“Good, good,” Lian Hua patted them on the head. “Let’s get in line.”
After half an hour, it was finally their turn at the front.
A beautiful female greeter wearing sunglasses passed them four forms to fill out their name, gender, age, whether or not they had special abilities and so on. Lian Hua filled the front out, jotting down “water abilities” for himself and “no abilities” for the three children.
Accepting the form, the greeter’s face softened a bit when she saw there was one special ability user.
“Go over there and grab a tester tab to see if you have zombie virus on you.”
Following instructions, Lian Hua extracted blood from all four of them. The testing paper didn’t change color. The greeter sighed a breath of relief, clearly unwilling to see a rare special ability user contaminated. This was curious to Lian Hua, as he didn’t know how accurate these testers were given how quickly they’d been invented.
“Everyone entering the base must pay up. Each person costs a hundred level one corpse crystals or an equivalent amount of resources. Special ability users are free and receive free housing, with half a jin of food supplemented each day.”
Of course this was the base’s way of recruiting special ability users.
“Of course, we’ll have someone here to test special ability users. We can’t have anyone faking it.” The greeter said seriously. Lianhua nodded.
“Normal people can go work in the vegetation area or fix up the city wall. We’ll provide you with food. Within the base, as long as you work you’ll never starve, although you won’t live a life of luxury either. Of course, you have the option to hunt outside the city. The meat of mutated beasts can be valuable,” the greeter said.
Saying nothing, Lian Hua listened to her.
“We have good benefits for special ability users. You can live in District A, the mansion area.”
Still nothing from Lian Hua.
The greeter’s lip twitched. “You can choose to accept the benefits or not.”
“Is there any duty when you do accept?” Lian Hua asked.
“If you accept, you’ll join our city leader’s team. Once a month there will be mandatory missions for you to participate in.”
“What if I want to leave the base?”
“We will never limit your freedom. If you wish to leave, just don’t forget to register with us before departing.”
“Then I won’t accept these terms.” Saying these words that were almost enough for the greeter to spit blood, Lian Hua produced four level two beast crystals.
“We’ll pay the fee to enter the city.”
“You really won’t consider accepting the benefits?” The greeter asked.
“Yep. I need to take care of these kids, so I can’t go anywhere dangerous.” Lian Hua said in a relaxed manner.
Seeing that it was no use convincing him, the greeter could only curse in silence and give four white cards to Lian Hua and the three kids.
“This is a first class citizen identity card. You need to carry it at all times while walking in the base. If you lose it, you’ll need to pay another twenty level one corpse crystals to replace it. Don’t lose it.” The greeter didn’t bother with manners. Originally she thought she would have another special ability user to recommend to the boss with a bonus for her! Who could expect he was a coward who feared death and wasted her time.
Noticing the change in her attitude, Lian Hua saw that the other greeters let people in after only a few quick words. It was probably due to the fact that he was a water ability user that she bothered with him at all. During a time like this most pretty girls wouldn’t have the privilege to do such an easy job, so she must have connections. Pulling the kids behind him, Lian Hua hurriedly walked into the tunnel.
Finally entering the base, he realized it was nowhere as nice as he imagined. The city wall was only a portion of the defenses, while the rest of it was just a high barbed wire fence that could be destroyed by a few high level mutant beasts. There weren’t many buildings either, just tents and sheds crowded together. Looks like this area must be the slums.
He kept dragging the kids along behind him, not knowing that they wouldn’t have received the status of first class citizen without his special ability.
The further they walked, the nicer the buildings became. Lian Hua guessed that this was originally a high end mansion district. It was only after special ability users in the government occupied these mansions that this base was built around them.
This place could only count as a small base, which meant it was a far cry from a medium-sized base and nothing compared to the capital and Xiazhi bases, which were basically new cities.
Suddenly Lian Hua was nostalgic. Xiazhi, I miss you. Do you miss me?
“Big bro, I’m hungry.” He Yu said quietly.
Coming back to his senses, Lian Hua noticed all the kids staring at him with concern. He smiled. “Let’s go to the trade district.”
“All right. Big bro, are you missing your wife again?” The little girl piped up.
Lian Hua: “…”
“Don’t put salt on the wound. We need to sympathize with him as a single man.” Zhao Xiaolong said quietly, pulling at He Yu’s sleeve.
Lian Hua: “…” Hey, I heard that! Any sadness he might have harbored flew out of the window.
He took them to the trade district. It was crowded, with stands set up on both sides selling everything.
Looking around, he saw no place to get food. Looks like the food was being rationed by the government. Lian Hua recalled what the greeter said about the planting district. Since they didn’t have the new technology or seeds coming from abroad, the earth couldn’t provide any food. Half a year later, someone must’ve discovered that the planted food was inedible.
They had been in the wilderness for so long that Lian Hua discovered the speed of mutation in plants was ramping up. Within two or three years, it was going to be a real breeding ground for danger.
Shaking his head, he started to look through the stands again.
Finally, he used a few level one beast crystals to exchange for a few items of children’s clothing. They weren’t very expensive, just a single crystal could swap for a lot of clothes.
He didn’t want to use beast crystals, but they hadn’t seen enough zombies along the way. Zombies were mostly gathered in the city, while they kept bumping into mutated insects or low level beasts which either were decimated or turned into meat.
Zhao Xiaolong’s absorption abilities didn’t waste anything, leaving behind only the crystal as he absorbed the blood and meat of the creatures. That was how the children were leveling up so quickly. Relying on Lian Yu’s energy mushrooms wasn’t enough, since they couldn’t be produced without a crystal nucleus.
After searching for a long while, Lian Hua didn’t manage to locate any salt for consumption. Although special ability users excelled in terms of physical ability, it was still bad for them to forgo salt for an extended period.
“Hey man, you look worried! Do you need my help?” Lian Hua was blocked by a man of short stature.
“You know what I’m looking for?” Lian Hua asked back with a frown, pulling the children behind him.
Seeing how defensive he was, the short man laughed. “Don’t be nervous. Everyone’s here to buy something. You have the look of someone who didn’t find what they were looking for. Whether it’s food or special items, you can follow me. I know a special spot that has everything.”
“Even guns?” Lian Hua asked with a brow arched.
“That stuff is controlled tightly. If you want it, we can still get ahold of it.” The man looked proud of himself.
“What about salt? Do you guys have that?”
“Salt? Of course. Come on.” The man walked off to the side.
“I heard that within the base stuff like salt is controlled tightly.” Lian Hua said, trying not to look suspicious.
“No matter how tightly controlled it is, there’s a way when there’s a will. Someone will be willing to ship it out.” Paying no heed to Lian Hua’s caution, the man told him this with a straightforward mannerism.
Lian Hua and the children were fully prepared. If this guy was lying, they’d teach him a lesson. It was Lian Hua’s first time encountering this kind of black market deal, so it was actually pretty exciting for him.
After a short walk, the guy knocked on a door three times. It immediately opened, and Lian Hua followed him inside.
“Brought some business, huh, Luo?” A rough man’s voice rang out from the counter.
“Big business, big business,” The man said with a sycophant’s smile.
The big guy took a look at them. One young man with three dirty little kids. One of them was a little girl, huh. He couldn’t help but grin. The young man was dirty too, but still a good-looking guy. If they washed him up a little bit he’d be good for tasting, might even earn them some soup! A little girl, which the boss would like, and a little boy, who would be useful! If they could work this deal out, there would be plenty of rewards.
He Yu’s pupils deepened, her lips moving lightly. He Xu and Zhao Xiaolong’s gaze grew cold. Lian Hua’s brows twitched slightly, as if he hadn’t noticed anything wrong.
“Here you go.” The big man threw something at the short guy: a potato pancake. Hurriedly shoving it into his arms, he ran out. “I won’t bother you guys doing business, so I’ll be going now!”
He Xu’s eyes flashed and a small bug flew upwards into the short man’s clothing. He could only control bugs with low intelligence and spirit.
Realizing what he was doing, Lian Hua did nothing in response. “We want salt. Do you have any?”
The big man turned around and grabbed a bag of edible salt. “It’s in a bag, thirty level two crystal nucleuses for each.”
Pulling out one level three beast crystal, Lian Hua put it on the table. “Give me three bags. Keep the rest as your tip.”
Picking up the beast crystal, the big man’s eyes flashed. Most special ability users were level one or two, with very few above level three. Their big boss was level three as well. He didn’t expect this young lad to produce a level three beast crystal. He’d never even seen one before! Of course he knew about how difficult beasts like that were to deal with.
“All right.” He came out with the bags of salt.
Picking up three bags, Lian Hua was just about to walk out.
“Hold on, brother. Our boss would like to meet you, I don’t know if you can spare the time.” The big man said.
Lian Hua smiled coldly. He produced the level three crystal to convince these guys to back down. So was this guy still thinking about trying it? He must really think they were soft or something. Did Lian Hua look easy to trick?
“Oh?” He raised his brow. “Your boss wants to see me? Tell him to find me where I’m living. I’m sure that’s not hard for you to find. Farewell.” He turned away, about to leave.
Unable to maintain his smile, the big man spat on the floor. “Little vixen b**tch. We’ll see how you cry when you land in my hands.”
Her face becoming ugly, He Yu clenched her fists. Lian Hua grabbed her. “Don’t worry, he’s nothing but a clown. We’ll see how big and bad the person behind him is, won’t we?” They left the way they came.
Zhao Xiaolong said nothing. He Xu let out another small black bug.
“Don’t kill people,” Lian Hua said to him.
Glancing at Lian Hua, He Xu lowered his head and said nothing.
“Let’s go. I’ll take you to rent a room first and eat some good food: sweet or sour or crispy. My mouth is so devoid of taste right now.” Lian Hua murmured to himself. “I wanted to leave you here for a while, looks like that’s not going to be easy! Perhaps this base isn’t government-run at all. Let’s rest for a night and get going in the morning!”
The children nodded.