Chapter 118: Camp
Before the sky turned completely dark, the Old Task Force arrived at the Rootless camp.
From afar, the first thing they saw were large vehicles.
These vehicles were several-fold the size of jeeps. The carriages were long and tall, and their paint coating was different. Some were brown and white, some had black patches over a white background, and some had stripes that accentuated the silver-gray.
“Are these all RVs?” Jiang Baimian had long stopped wearing her sunglasses. She slowed down and seriously identified the vehicles for a few seconds.
“Yes.” Bai Chen nodded. “RVs are the Rootless’s home. Every vehicle represents a family.”
“Is that so…” When Jiang Baimian looked at the camp again, she saw more details.
Taking up the majority were at least dozens of RVs in the camp, perhaps even close to 100.
Among them, the largest RVs were parked at the edge, forming a steel wall. Only an opening for vehicles to pass through remained.
Through the gaps between the ‘walls,’ one could see that the cars inside were all neatly parked. At the core were a few vehicles that seemed to be even larger.
“What’s an RV?” Long Yuehong asked, perplexed.
Shang Jianyao took the initiative to explain, “It’s a vehicle that has living quarters installed in the trailer.”
“You’ve seen them before?” Long Yuehong asked in surprise.
Everyone had undergone the same education and had the same experience in the field. How had Shang Jianyao seen an RV but not him?
Shang Jianyao shook his head. “I’ve never seen them before. A guess.”
Jiang Baimian laughed. “There’s not much of a problem with what Shang Jianyao said. An RV turns the trailer into living quarters. It has a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, and even a living room and dining room.”
“How extravagant.” Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong gave their evaluations simultaneously.
Such a room would only be assigned to Pangu Biology employees with a rank of D7 and above or a couple that had reached D4.
Bai Chen added, “It’s said that the original Rootless came from the Old World’s RV campsites. It’s a camp that specially allows people driving RVs to park.”
Although she didn’t understand why the Old World had to do this, she still repeated what she had heard back then.
Fortunately, Shang Jianyao did not raise any objections.
Bai Chen looked at the setting sun’s rays that scattered over the car window and continued, “As you know, the Heartless disease breakouts mainly happened in the large cities back then. Places like the RV campsites were fine. Furthermore, there were no attacks on them.
“Therefore, they were lucky to survive the Old World’s destruction, but they couldn’t return to their hometowns. They might have tried, but I’m not sure. But from the results, they definitely failed.
“In the Chaotic Era after the Old World was destroyed, they felt that it was better for everyone to gather together. There was strength in numbers. After that, they also found a place to settle down and farm. However, they were repeatedly attacked by war, monster hordes, and large numbers of Heartless. They were chased out of their original settlement by the changing weather and environment.
“Later, they became completely accustomed to their lives in vehicles. They also became accustomed to the nomadic lifestyle as a large group. They no longer settled down and called themselves people without roots. Yes, we prefer to call them Rootless.”
Shang Jianyao raised a very serious question. “Then, what do they eat?”
“That’s right, that’s right.” Long Yuehong expressed his desire to ask the same question.
Not settling down meant that they could not farm and had no fixed harvests.
Bai Chen looked at the approaching camp entrance and spoke a little faster. “Their initial state was closer to that of Ruin Hunters. They obtained fuel, food, weapons, high-performance batteries, and various supplies from the city ruins after the Heartless died. Back then, every city ruin was a rich mine.
“After the Chaotic Era ended, the large factions were established one after another. Their large convoy quickly became an exploitable target. They also took the opportunity to change their identities and became armed caravans that came and went between the various factions, accepting commissions for cargo transport and sales.”
“Why don’t large factions do these businesses themselves?” Long Yuehong remembered that there were many large vehicles in the company’s parking lot—far more than in the Rootless camp.
Upon hearing his question, Jiang Baimian—who was driving—teased, “Where does the company get that much manpower? If a rookie like you can get sent to the Old Task Force, you can guess how short-handed we are. We aren’t Mechanical Paradise. We have neither the resources nor the technology to produce so many smart robots.”
Long Yuehong came to a realization.
Bai Chen casually added, “For many large factions, they don’t like to send their own people to escort supplies that aren’t especially important.
“There was once a relatively large settlement. It was sacked when the leader left the settlement mostly empty when sending a large number of guards out to deliver the goods. Besides, it’s more convenient for neutral caravans to pass through many sensitive areas.”
Upon seeing that Long Yuehong and Shang Jianyao no longer had questions, she said, “As long as you have fuel, food, high-performance batteries, and various relatively intact vehicle parts, you can hire the Rootless and get them to deliver the goods for you.
“They claim to live off gas. When the weather turns cold and the volume of transactions decreases, the Rootless will migrate to a similar camp and use the food they previously stocked up to survive winter. At the same time, they will take on jobs pertaining to transportation and transactions in the camp’s vicinity.
“This is the largest group of Rootless. The reason they often choose this camp is because there’s a nearby waterworks that can still be used.”
As they spoke, the jeep had already arrived at the Rootless camp’s entrance.
Upon seeing this, Bai Chen quickly emphasized, “After you enter, you have to remember not to damage their vehicles. To the Rootless, vehicles are their most precious asset. A person who has no vehicle and has no other Rootless family to take them in will only be abandoned.
“Also, they were born and raised in vehicles for nearly three generations. They have unique feelings for vehicles and no longer treat them as objects but family. If you injure their family, they will definitely not treat you kindly.”
Jiang Baimian was intrigued and slapped the steering wheel. “It’s indeed a relatively unique culture and custom.”
At this moment, the guards at the front of the two large RVs raised the muzzles of their assault rifles, indicating for the visitors to stop.
Bai Chen rolled down the window and stuck her head out. “We are here to make a trade.”
The guard with a beard took a closer look, and his eyes lit up. “Looking good. Excellent figure too. This jeep is not bad! How much horsepower does it have?”
“It uses high-performance batteries,” Bai Chen replied truthfully.
The bearded guard became increasingly interested. “Do you guys want to change wives and leave it here?”
“It’s true love between us!” Shang Jianyao had popped his head out at some point in time and replied loudly.
The bearded guard gave him a thumbs up. “Good taste.”
He then lowered the muzzle and pointed into the camp with his chin. “Go on in. Stop as instructed. Otherwise, you can’t blame us for losing your wife.”
When the jeep passed through the entrance, Long Yuehong muttered to himself in surprise, “It’s that simple?”
There wasn’t anyone familiar to testify for them, nor were their weapons confiscated. Yet, the Old Task Force entered the camp easily.
Jiang Baimian looked at the rearview mirror and smiled. “For the Rootless caravans with sufficient firepower and personnel, outsiders are the ones who fear entering. They might not be able to leave once they enter.”
“That’s true…” Long Yuehong thought for a moment and said, “Then, we have to be vigilant. We can’t trust these people completely.”
“Yes.” As Jiang Baimian followed the instructions and slowly drove down the path, she turned her head and said to Shang Jianyao, “You’re up next! Do a good job!”
“I’m not a car.” Shang Jianyao was ‘put on the spot.’
“That’s right. Our dear Bai Chen is such a beautiful lady, but they didn’t even look at her and only checked the jeep out,” Jiang Baimian teased.
Bai Chen wanted to say that she was older, but she silently gave up the idea after noticing Jiang Baimian’s height.
With the guide’s help, they quickly parked the car and alighted from the jeep.
With a glance, Jiang Baimian realized that the behemoths parked in the depths of the camp were dragging large silver-gray metallic tanks.
“An oil tank… No wonder it’s so tightly protected.” As she sighed, she heard the sound of an engine coming from a blue and white-painted RV beside her.
A middle-aged man in a baseball cap stood in front of the car. He touched the hood and listened to the sounds coming from the interior. After the engine’s roar came to a stop, he nodded thoughtfully.
At some point in time, Shang Jianyao had already jumped over and asked curiously, “What are you doing?”
The middle-aged man in the baseball cap was of average height. He had a muscular body, and his skin was slightly tanned. His clothes seemed to be stained with grease.
Upon hearing Shang Jianyao’s question, his slightly fierce expression relaxed. “Everyone has a temper. I have to hear what it’s unhappy about.”
Upon seeing the confused looks Long Yuehong and the others wore, the man touched the slightly old blue and white paint on the RV and smiled. “This big guy has been a member of our family since my grandfather’s days. Now that it’s older, its temper has worsened a little. We have to coax it a little more.
“Haha, you have elders back home, right? You have to coax them.”
Shang Jianyao took a step back and looked at the RV carefully. He pointed at the headlights and said, “Its eyes are beautiful.”
The middle-aged man seemed to have found a confidant and gushed, “It’s been fixed twice. It looked better when it was young…”
Upon hearing this, Jiang Baimian whispered to Bai Chen and Long Yuehong, “Sometimes, I really think Shang Jianyao has the talent for making friends.”
They chatted for a while before the driver—a young man in his twenties—came down with a toolbox. Together with the middle-aged man, they opened the hood and began repairing it skillfully.
Shang Jianyao then retreated and followed Jiang Baimian and the others through the RVs toward the most lively spot in the camp.
Bai Chen looked back at the spot and smiled very slightly. “If any of you have excellent car repairing skills, you can even marry a few wives here.”