Luo Yuan lowered his body and went through the thick metal door. Underneath the door was a typical basement staircase, and on both sides of it there was light. It was as bright as daylight.
After crossing five levels about 20 meters deep, they entered a long, three-meter wide channel. Every twenty meters, there was a soldier on duty. It was a pretty tense atmosphere, and everyone could feel the pressure.
Luo Yuan knocked on the wall of the channel with his weapon’s handle. Using his Sensory Perception, he discovered that the wall was more than a meter thick. That kind of thickness could withstand even a cannon bombardment.
Luo Yuan was relieved. Against such defense, even a green level mutated beast would need to put some effort to break in. He continued to walk for another minute, passing by three thick metal doors, each about 50 centimeters thick. The noise got gradually louder as the team reached the hall.
The entire 10,000 square meters of the hall were full of people. Some of them were sitting, and others were standing, but all of them looked anxious and afraid.
A two-year-old child was crying hard, and a woman kept trying to comfort it. Next to her, a man who seemed to be her husband was rummaging around for a bottle, but coming up with nothing. It seemed like he had forgotten to bring the bottle, and he looked frustrated.
A lonely, widowed old man was sitting in the corner, groaning and sighing, sadness flashing across his wrinkled face.
There were also several strong young men discussing what would happen next. Their faces looked excited and high-spirited. There were all kinds of different people with different feelings and expressions in the hall.
Luo Yuan glanced at the crowd and carefully looked around the rough, concrete walls. There were big motivational slogans posted everywhere. There were several channels near the lobby, so he guessed this was not the only hall.
He took a deep breath. Compared to the dugout before the end of the world, the defense now was clearly more powerful and more sensibly designed. The placement of each survivor hall was relatively independent, so even if one of the halls was destroyed, they could ensure the safety of the other halls by closing the metal door at the entrance of the channel.
"We have to find a place to sit!" Wu Xiaoxiao said as her restless heart calmed down.
Luo Yuan nodded. Apparently, there was no room arrangement under the current circumstances. He found a space randomly and sat down right on the floor. Huang Jiahui and the rest also sat down naturally.
They were already used to surviving in the wild. Usually, they would care about cleanliness, but in that tense atmosphere, they knew it was more important to be at their best state at any time.
However, Wu Xiaoxiao and Sun Youde were still not used to it. Wu Xiaoxiao hesitated for a while, but she also sat down eventually. Sun Youde looked at the thick dust. It looked like the hall had not been cleaned in a long time. He could not stand it. Frowning in hesitation, he did not sit down but chose to squat instead.
Luo Yuan took a glance at Sun Youde, who was squatting as if he was ready to stand up anytime. It might have been safer than sitting down, but it was a bad choice. When one squatted for a long time, it could lead to poor blood circulation and numbness in their feet. When one’s knees were bent in a curve, it was difficult for their muscles to get relief, and when they eventually stood up, they had to move at a slower speed. If they had been outside confronting some kind of danger, such a delay could have proved fatal.
However, this was a shelter with a strong defense, so he did not expect to face any danger. Therefore, he did not advise Sun Youde not to squat.
To be honest, the man had made a bad impression on him. It was normal for someone to be hostile when they met a love rival. Luo Yuan would have done the same himself.
However, this man was clearly different from others. His hostility was abnormal and had a trace of deep malice to it.
That instinct was based on Luo Yuan’s intuition, which had been trained through experiencing numerous dangers. It was almost impossible for normal people to hide anything from him. People could be trained to hide their true feelings, but no matter how perfect the mask they wore was, they could never fool their own hearts.
Anyway, Luo Yuan did not care much about it.
"Where is Cao Lin? Have you seen her?" he asked Huang Jiahui in surprise as he glanced around the crowd.
Wu Xiaoxiao looked a little curious when she heard another woman’s name. All along the way, while she had followed Luo Yuan and his gang, she had thought that her high school classmate had seemed very mysterious. These women did not seem like ordinary people. They carried weapons with them, and their temperament was different than the average person. Their actions were efficient, and she did not know why, but she felt intimidated by them.
Although they sat separately, Luo Yuan was still sitting in the center. A few of them sat very close to each other. So close, that she would not believe them if they said they did not have a relationship. She thought he already had enough women, so she had not expected to hear another woman’s name.
"I thought you had forgotten about her." Huang Jiahui smiled as she looked at Luo Yuan. "Cao Lin and Huo Dong have been together for some time. He’s a deputy director of the guarding troops now, so he’s arranged a safe place for his woman."
Luo Yuan did not respond to Huang Jiahui’s playful expression. He had not done anything wrong, so he had nothing to be scared of. "I never knew!" he said curiously. "Huo Dong never mentioned it."
Yet now he recalled how cautiously Huo Dong had acted in front of him, and how many times Cao Lin had given him hints when they had been outside the city. It must have been a common secret among the team, but Luo Yuan understood why Huo Dong had been afraid of his reaction if he discovered the truth.
He shook his head silently. Cao Lin was very pretty and smart, but she had a complicated mindset. That kind of people could thrive under any circumstances, but she was definitely not his type.
"According to Huo Dong, there are spare rooms. He can arrange one for us," Huang Jiahui continued. When she saw Luo Yuan look unfazed, she could not help but be secretly relieved. She had really wanted to see Luo Yuan’s reaction, so she had purposely teased him in that naughty tone.
Cao Lin and Huo Dong were a match made by her. If Luo Yuan found out, he might be displeased. He might even resent her and want to stay away from her. If that happened, she really did not know what she would do.
She was not as strong as she looked. She was the weaker one in the relationship, and she had to put up with the existence of Zhao Yali and Wang Shishi so that she did not seem unnecessary.
New Beijing was the redevelopment capital.
It was a new city built in about a year and a half. It was not the country’s largest city, but it was the center of politics and economics. Its large number of factories and research institutions accounted for almost two-thirds of the city.
The chimneys were as dense as a forest, exuding a horrible smokey smell toward the sky day and night. The rich mist was like a layer of soft tulle, shrouded in every corner of the city. Even under the sunlight, the city looked dim and misty.
Xinhua Road had been a common road name before the end of the world, but it had a significant meaning in this new city.
If New Beijing was the hub of the country, then that street was the heart of the hub. Almost all central departments were stationed there, so it was tightly guarded. There were guard posts located all along the street, and a dozen armored vehicles were patrolling it back and forth. In addition, about a kilometer away were the most elite troops in New Beijing, coupled with an intensive automated air defense network. Even a mutated fly would not be able to fly over that network.
In the center of the road, there was an inconspicuous small building that was even more closely guarded. If "Wartime Commission" had not been written in red solemn characters on a plaque, no one would have ever known that this was currently the country’s biggest center of power.
Those past few days though, the atmosphere there had become very grave.
It had all started a month ago when a researcher at the Institute of Geology had noticed a strange occurrence. He had discovered that the magnetometer had shifted eight degrees from the Earth’s magnetic field and that the magnetic field had also weakened by 12%.
If this had happened before the end of the world, it would have been sensational news, but now, when human lives were at stake, such a thing was naturally ignored.
Shifts in a magnetic field occurred often and always changed. The moving plates of the earth caused volcanic eruptions, massive nuclear explosions, and rising sea levels, and could lead to changes in the poles. There had been several times in the earth’s history when a magnetic field reversal phenomenon had occurred. This time though, it was a slightly bigger change.
Since the end of the world, researchers had been trained not to pay too much attention to detail, so the man had not kept those changes in mind. He had just written down the results in a notebook and put it aside.
After ten days though, as the subjects he studied had been idle and his thinking had been clogged, he saw the magnetometer in the laboratory and recalled his measurement a few days earlier. In a sudden impulse, he tested it again, and the results made him pale.
The magnetometer had shifted 17 degrees, and the magnetic field had weakened by 21%.
In just ten days, it had shifted by nine degrees. This was the first time this had happened in human history, so he became a little nervous. At first, he had thought that he had measured it inaccurately last time. He went back home and suffered from insomnia the whole night. The next day, when he measured again, it was 18 degrees. He realized the seriousness of the situation, and he immediately reported it to the institution. The institution reported it right away to the center, and soon the issue had attracted everyone’s attention.
After several days and nights of research, a more detailed report was presented on the conference table of the Wartime Commission. The results made everyone feel hopeless. All the data showed that the earth’s magnetic field was about to reverse and rewind at a fast speed. There was no time for them to react or respond in any way.
The consequences of a magnetic field reversal would be devastating. Once the magnetic field was reversed, the first consequence would be that the magnetic field would start weakening. Taking into account that it was the Earth’s shield, once the magnetic field disappeared temporarily, an intense solar wind would blow towards the Earth, and once the ozone layer burst, UV light would no longer be blocked.
However, what was even more serious, was that the cosmic storm caused by the burst of the supernova had not been stopped yet. It had just been wandering around the solar system, so if there was no protective magnetic field, it could lead to more dire consequences.
Before any of this had happened though, a massive migration of mutated beasts caused by magnetic field disturbances had been creating a red alert in the Reconstruction Area.
Insects and birds were undoubtedly more sensitive to the change of the magnetic field than humans. In fact, when the report was submitted, the satellite had already captured the movement of mutated beasts around the globe.
A large number of insects and birds had been moving insanely in large groups. Even the smallest group was several square kilometers big, and the biggest ones looked hundreds or even thousands of square kilometers wide on the satellite picture. Their density almost formed a huge shadow on the picture.
The Reconstruction Area was unfortunately on the path of a large influx of insects.
Prior to this, several bombs, including a hydrogen bomb, had been used to attack those insects in an attempt to intercept them and change their path. However, the results had been dissatisfying. Although the bombs had killed most of the insects, the influx of insects had diffused and become broader, reaching tens of thousands of square kilometers.
As a result, the center had decided to stop the nuclear attacks. They were not worried about the nuclear winter brought by the excessive launches of nuclear bombs. In fact, over the past year, there had been more than three thousand nuclear launches globally. On average, ten bombs were detonated almost every day. Some scientists claimed that, radiation cloud aside, nuclear winter would curb global warming, which would actually be a positive impact.
However, the world had not turned colder, and a radiation cloud had not appeared either. The radiation was perfectly absorbed by the massive plants, which were thousands of times more than what the Earth used to have before the end of the world, causing even more mutation.
They stopped the nuclear attacks simply because it would be a waste to attack at this point. After all, nuclear bombs did not grow on trees, and China was not like the United States or Russia, who owned more than ten thousand nuclear bombs.
There were only a few hundred bombs in China’s total reserves. Its big territory and a large number of nuclear launches during the earlier part of the end of the world had consumed almost all the country’s inventory.
Of course, with their current level of productivity, bomb-making would not be too difficult. If they used their full force, they could make up to a few hundred bombs a year. However, due to the scarcity of uranium and its electricity demand, nuclear bomb production was very limited, so their bomb inventory was always empty.
Tens of thousands of square kilometers of insects could easily destroy half the Reconstruction Area. Civilization would be hit again and all their effort to rebuild everything would go to waste. More than a dozen army teams with millions of soldiers, who had been put on standby a few days ago, went forward into battle, heading from three different directions.
The war was starting.