Chapter 48: Petrified

This place is hardly a Defense Report Centre. It’s a freaking military camp.

From what Luo Yuan could see, four towers, one hundred meters tall each, had been erected at each corner of the encampment, which was surrounded by porcupine-like iron-spikes. Approximately every ten minutes, a fighter jet would boom across the sky and patrol the area for any potential danger.

It was pretty obvious that the encampment was the city’s frontline defense against the monsters – it looked like the surface of the moon, what with all the bomb-made craters in the area. The scent of gunpowder and smoke perfumed the atmosphere, a foreshadowing of danger, a warning that a battle could occur at any given time.

With every routine thundering of the fighter jet, came a noticeable commotion within the woods. No one could be certain if it was the recoiling of the wind, or monsters reacting to the sound of the fighter jet in terror. Looking beyond the horizon, Luo Yuan could not help but dread a potential monster stampede.

“The city’s got about ten of these frontline defense encampments. This is the nearest one,” Qian Dakui said aloud, unfazed by the sight. “Alright, man, let’s get some technical stuff taken care of and then go rent ourselves some weapons!”

Luo Yuan snapped out of his reverie. “They’ve got all kinds of weapons?”

“Well, as long as you can carry them, of course! And there are plenty of provision coupons to spare!” Yang Dawei said while he pretended to count invisible money with his hands. “Pistols, shotguns, machine guns, hand grenades… You name it, they’ve got it! They know that you have to have a death wish to head out there unarmed.”

They got out of the car and Qian Dakui opened the trunk, revealing an assortment of melee weapons. With a businesslike motion, Zhao Cao got himself a crossbow and a loaded quiver before effortlessly sheathing a military bayonet in his belt. Yang Dawei took a kukri while Qian Dakui took a dagger and proceeded to close the trunk.

Qian Dakui looked at Luo Yuan’s peculiar expression and awkwardly explained, “Don’t look at me like that! I’d take my signature shield if I could, but I’m a gunman now. I can’t afford to weigh myself down with any excess weaponry.”

“Why are you explaining yourself? I wasn’t laughing at you!”

As Luo Yuan patted Qian Dakui on the shoulder, a car drove into the encampment and parked right next to their car. Five men got out the vehicle laughing out loud, and looked across at them. Qian Dakui’s face suddenly changed. He and one of the men glanced at each other as they walked away – neither of them wanted to start a fight inside a military encampment.

“Who are those men?” Luo Yuan asked.

Qian Dakui remained silent, his expression somber.

Yang Dawei walked beside Luo Yuan and answered in a whisper, “We don’t really know who they are, just that they are from Hedong City and that we once got into a fight with them.”

Luo Yuan could tell that the trio had not been on the winning side of the fight, so he decided against asking any further questions.

Before they were allowed to enter the central building of the encampment, they had to go through a checkpoint. After they were given the all-clear, they entered the lobby of a torn building that might have once been a bank, except that now its walls and foundation were exposed to the elements. The men from Hedong City were at the counter, getting their paperwork done.

As they were approaching the counter, one of them glared and made a slit-throat gesture while his friend laughed out loud. Qian Dakui’s face reddened and he grinded his teeth in disgust. Luo Yuan was worried that they might start a fight but to his surprise, Qian Dakui took a deep breath and looked the other way. The atmosphere was tense, but it wasn’t just Qian Dakui. Luo Yuan noticed that Zhang Cao and Yang Dawei seemed equally provoked, their faces dark while they held themselves back, a mixture of anger and fear in their eyes.

He still found the tension between the two parties peculiar, so he observed the men from Hedong City some more. While he was looking at them, one of the men noticed and smirked at him. Luo Yuan was impressed that this stranger had sensed his covert observation. He was certain that he was the one that had been disturbing Qian Dakui’s party.

This can’t be right. He looks too average to exert so much terror, his aura isn’t even that intimidating! He’s just so… normal. You wouldn’t even notice him in a crowd. It’s pretty damn obvious that he’s not the alpha of the pack. He looks more like a sidekick. Curiouser, and curiouser indeed.

Luo Yuan wrinkled his forehead, deep in thought.

When the five men finished their paperwork and left the area, only then did Qian Dakui & Co. exhale a sigh of relief and go back to their easygoing personas. Luo Yuan followed Qian Dakui into an office next to the ammunition warehouse. A middle-aged, somewhat corpulent man was lounging in the middle of the office. He was dressed in a military uniform, but looked more like a businessman. He greeted the newcomers with a smile.

“What do you need?”

Yang Dawei, who was in charge of logistics, asked Luo Yuan if he needed any weapons, but he politely declined. He explained that his own swords were all he needed and that he wasn’t very good with a gun anyway.

Yang Dawei looked at Qian Dakui before he turned back to the officer, “Just the usual, Officer Huang. We’ll have a ’56 machine gun, an ’88 shotgun, and a grenade launcher. I don’t suppose there’s been any raise in prices?

“Still the same old price for the moment. We’re expecting a bit of a raise as the military is spending more than they used to,” the officer replied without looking up. He punched a few numbers on the calculator before he added, “The deposits will cost you a 2000-gram rice coupon. Do you need ammunition?”

Yang Dawei’s expression turned to disbelief at the prices, but he knew that there wasn’t anything they could do about it. “We’ll take twenty penetrators, a thousand common pistol bullets, five grenades rounds, and eight hand grenades.”

“That’ll be a 6850-gram rice coupon.”

Yang Dawei took out a wallet and wasted no time in paying. That was when the officer looked up and grinned, “I don’t suppose you’ll be needing a mortar?”

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