After two days, they finally arrived at another city but similar to the rest, it was also a city in ruins.
However, lady luck was on their side this time. At one of the ruins that they presumed was an old train station, they found a worn-out local map. Most parts of the map were already torn, but key information such as specific directions, city names and prefectural roads were still legible.
This important piece of information provided them with help, just in the nick of time. At least, they no longer had to rush about haphazardly without so much as an inkling of a guide.
As the city was in ruins and appeared to be totally different from its original state, the group had almost searched the whole city before they could find the location of prefectural road. The road was almost diffused into the surrounding greens and was covered by a layer of thick vines, which would have gone unnoticed should they not have used the map.
The vines looked very bizarre as they did not have any leaves, only some intertwined rough and flat stems that formed a massive carpet. The heavy steps of the giant lizard and king kong on the ground broke the vines apart, producing cracking sounds that scared off many small-sized mutated beasts.
As the group traveled out of the city, plants similar to cacti gradually appeared in their line of vision. However, when compared to normal cacti, these plants were surprisingly enormous. They were about a hundred to two hundred meters high; much higher than most trees were, making them stand out from the rest. They resembled green skyscrapers from a distance.
"These are super cacti, edible and thus one of the main vegetables in the Reconstruction Area. We are currently not far away from the desert." Commander Xia said excitedly when he caught sight of these plants.
After traveling for about two hours and crossing a few junctions, the environment and their surroundings started to change rather distinctively. The plants became sparser and shorter, and the soil, which was mixed with yellowish-white sands, was exposed to the air for the first time.
They had already arrived the desert, or rather, the desert prior to the apocalypse. But alas, it was engulfed by the plants now, only less sparse.
The windbreak forest at the both sides of the road seemed to have been chopped down a couple of times, as the recently grown plants were much shorter than those plants that were located further away. As they traveled on, the abandoned cars had increased and almost blocked the whole road eventually, akin to a long dragon that stretched away into the infinite distance.
Smaller cars were not seen anywhere around, as most were reconfigured passenger cars and trucks, while some were armored vehicles and tanks.
White bones were seen everywhere, some were the mutated beasts’, while the others belonged to humans. If observed carefully, the road surface appeared to be light brown, which was what they made out to be dried blood.
Some jewelry, gold bars and debris of antiques were strewn all over the road as if they didn’t cost a thing, all mixed up with the remnants and bones. As for those paper bank notes, they had already been decayed.
It was unimaginable how the migration had cost that many lives, and corpses were sprawled all over the entire road.
Seeing such a scene, the group was overcome by a wave of sadness, and could not help but to reminisce the hardships in the past.
Nevertheless, such a gory scene depicted that the Reconstruction Area was not far away!
Luo Yuan seemed to have picked up some voices not too far away. He looked towards the source of the voice and was stunned, "Eh, there’s someone here!"
"What? Where?" Huang Jiahui asked with a surprise face.
They were after all, in the wilderness. Along the way, other than themselves, they could see no one. If they were not aware that there was a place known as the Reconstruction Area, they would have thought that human beings had already gone extinct.
Luo Yuan pointed at their direction, and the group looked towards them. In the forest afar, a group of people were squatting on the floor while keeping vigil. They were a group of six; dirty and unkempt, with torn to rags clothes. Unlike average refugees, they did not appear to be miserable but looked wild and untamed instead.
"They’re the wanderers!" Commander Xia suddenly said.
"Wanderers?" Luo Yuan asked doubtfully.
"This is a group formed by the deserters, criminals, and some untamed evolved people!" The tone of Commander Xia sounded contemptuous and laced with disdain, "In the group, most of them are the deserters. As the pressure from the battlefield was too high, with many of them losing their lives daily, they could not adapt to such a lifestyle, and soon became deserters. They are now no longer able to enter the Reconstruction Area, and have no choice but to be left wandering nearby."
"They were just left like this? Did the Reconstruction Area not encircle and suppress them?" As Huang Jiahui used to be a cop, she asked while casting a despicable glance at them.
"The number of wanderers were too large, with about hundreds of thousands of them, and they were very much dispersed. Those who were weak and afraid of dying on the battlefield, after becoming wanderers, have also become especially ferocious and wild. Amongst them were the strong, evolved people and this makes things very tricky. We tried to carry out large extent encirclement and suppression for a few times but it was proven futile. Therefore, nobody enforces this anymore, as their existence has actually reduced the stress that we’re having at the defense line. So, we have decided to let them be, on one condition – that they don’t form large dangerous groups or cause any ruckus."
Luo Yuan nodded in his heart. The largest enemy of humankind was still the mutated beasts. Therefore, men did not have much energy to waste on internal conflicts such as these.
"All of you stay here. I’m going over to ask a few questions," Luo Yuan said, after a thought.
"Be careful, they may have guns," Huang Jiahui warned.
The fire arms did not pose as much of a threat to him anymore unless he was attacked with high-density bullets. Otherwise, with his Agility, no one was able to hit him. Despite that, Luo Yuan still nodded and leapt off the giant lizard. Each step he took was about seven to eight meters far. Though he walked step by step, his Speed was extremely fast.
As the group saw it, they were shocked and subconsciously retreated by a few steps. Two of them even took out their rifle, as if they were ready to fire away. Nevertheless, they were stopped by a middle-aged man, "Don’t act recklessly and keep your rifle. Let’s see what he is trying to do."
After a few breaths, the silhouette suddenly appeared in front of them. The people were breathing fast and suddenly, the oppressive aura filled the atmosphere, and even the air particles seemed to begin vibrating.
Their face turned pale, feeling a slight difficulty in breathing. The middle-aged leader tried to stay calm and asked, "My friend, how can my brothers and I help you?"
Luo Yuan was a bit shocked as he had not thought that the group had relatively good Will. Even Huo Dong and the others were not any better when he exerted thirty percent of his Aura. In fact, they were able to endure this only because they were close to him.
Realizing that he had intimidated them, Luo Yuan no longer wanted to act menacingly. Therefore, he kept his Aura and said, "Nothing much, I just want to know how far the Reconstruction Area is from here… it would be better if you have a map."
The middle-aged leader instantly heaved a sigh of relief. It seemed that the supposedly terrifying person he was facing, turned out to be an approachable person after all. However, when he recovered, he said with a surprise, "Do all of you want to go to the Reconstruction Area? From the outside?"
"Huh? Are there no other survivors coming here anymore?" Luo Yuan was sharp enough to read his facial expression.
"I’m not sure about other places, but this area no longer has survivors coming in within the last three months. The same could be said for other places too," the middle-aged leader said.
"Nobody anymore?" Luo Yuan sobbed in his heart and was speechless for a while.
The middle-aged leader tried to observe his body language, and with caution, he said, "Are you trying to sneak in or go directly to the garrison?"
"Sneak in?" Luo Yuan recovered, "Other than sneaking in, can’t we enter the Reconstruction Area just like that?"
"No. This is because there is a huge defense area with soldiers everywhere. You have to cross through the defense line if you want to enter the Reconstruction Area. If you manage to slip across, I know a location of an underground path!" The middle-aged leader said, "Maybe you aren’t aware of this, but the rules of the Reconstruction Area is strict, among them includes the compulsory military service which may cost you your life. As you won’t need to register yourself if you choose to sneak in, you can avoid this perfectly."
Luo Yuan glanced at him and had already understood his motives. He wanted to try to manipulate their Strength to sneak in and return to the Reconstruction Area. He also understood that the underground path should not be an easy route to take on. Nevertheless, they will surely be disappointed.
"We shall go to the garrison directly. Do you have a map?" Luo Yuan said.
The middle-aged leader was stunned, and although impressed, a sliver of disappointment flashed through his heart. As he did not dare to show any form of weakness, he replied immediately, "How could we possibly own a map? Just go along this road for about two to three hours and you will arrive at the defense region."
Luo Yuan left quickly.
While looking at the group riding on the enormous beast leaving so quickly, the middle-aged leader was relieved and was filled with admiration yet felt a slight regret simultaneously. He was emotionally disturbed.
Perhaps it would have been better if he did not become a deserter after all.
"Regiment Commander, let’s return!"