Chapter 127: Auntie Nan
“They also know how to repair firearms?” Long Yuehong looked at Bai Chen in the driver’s seat and pushed open the door. He was implying that this was no longer a simple repair job.
“If they can’t do such work, they won’t be able to open such a shop.” The cold wind howled outside, and Bai Chen couldn’t help but tug at the gray scarf around her neck.
“Besides, sometimes a broken gun might not really be damaged, or it might not be that badly damaged.” Jiang Baimian speculated based on her experience and knowledge. “It’s just that the person selling the gun doesn’t know much.”
Bai Chen nodded and said, “This is where the money is.”
With that said, she closed the door and walked to Ah Fu’s Gun Shop.
“Money?” Long Yuehong had learned this term before, but he had only seen it once in reality. It was the Old World coin Shang Jianyao had obtained from Wu Shoushi.
As Jiang Baimian looked through the windshield, she casually said, “This place is considered a part of a large faction. Currency is definitely circulating here, but it’s often limited internally. Actually, the company’s contribution points are essentially equivalent to money. Have you forgotten the concept of equivalency?”
Long Yuehong recalled for a few seconds and weakly said, “We never learned that…”
Jiang Baimian was speechless. She smiled after a few seconds. “I’ll give you a few books to read in the future. Although this is useless in terms of company life, it’s useful for us—who often come to the Ashlands—to understand more things.
“Besides, it will be much easier for you to be transferred out of the Old Task Force if you can master it. You might even be assigned to the department in charge of foreign trade.”
“Good, good.” Long Yuehong’s eyes lit up. Although he would definitely be in the Old Task Force for the next half a year, he was bound to have immediate concerns despite there being none in the future. He had to prepare for his future transfer.
Otherwise, it would be really easy to be disappointed after adapting to such a high-income job. Besides, he still had to support a family in the future!
Jiang Baimian smiled and nodded. She then looked at Shang Jianyao suspiciously. “Why aren’t you saying anything?”
The quieter this fellow was, the more she was afraid that he would cause trouble.
Shang Jianyao rubbed his stomach and said, “Saving energy.”
“That’s true…” Jiang Baimian also felt hungry.
It had been quite a while since lunch.
As she spoke, Bai Chen came out of Ah Fu’s Gun Shop and returned to the jeep.
Behind her, a young man in an old windbreaker walked out and pulled open the iron fence a few meters away.
This led to the back of the building, where the gun shop was located.
This was a square courtyard surrounded by several buildings. The ground was covered in grayish-white stone bricks, but many of them had shattered and had rainwater pooling in them.
After Bai Chen found a spot to park the jeep, she said as she drove, “We’re here.”
Jiang Baimian nodded slightly, alighted, and looked around. She firmly drilled the locations of the four exits in the courtyard into her mind.
They then followed Bai Chen through Ah Fu’s Gun Shop’s backdoor and went up a cold, damp, and grayish-white staircase to the second floor.
A woman in her thirties was already waiting here. Her black hair was tied into a high bun. She didn’t have outstanding facial features to speak of, but she had an indescribable charm.
At this moment, she was wearing a dark-red cotton jacket and a dark scarf around her neck. She looked rather clean.
“Auntie Nan.” Bai Chen greeted her.
Auntie Nan glanced at the Old Task Force and didn’t ask anything. She pointed at the end of the second-floor corridor and said, “Your rooms are the two innermost ones. If you encounter any problems, you can jump into the courtyard or onto the street. The keys are on the doors.”
Jiang Baimian looked at the scarf around Auntie Nan’s neck and smiled. “Thank you.”
“It’s not like I’m letting you guys stay for free.” Auntie Nan pursed her lips and smiled. “Each of the two rooms costs 500 grams of military canned food a day. I hope you guys don’t end up defaulting on the debt.”
Jiang Baimian said briskly, “Don’t worry. Even if we really can’t pay, I’ll get them to find something to do.”
She was referring to Shang Jianyao and Long Yuehong.
Auntie Nan smiled casually. “In Weed City, the competition amongst Ruin Hunters is very intense. Sometimes, they even take on missions to deliver lunch and dinner for others.”
She paused and added, “The toilet and shower room are on the other side. You won’t miss them when you head there.
“If you want to shower but are afraid of the cold, it’s best to do it between 12:00 to 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m. We would have just finished cooking, and there’s enough hot water in the empty walls behind the stove, which can be directly drawn for usage. Heh heh, we have to conserve energy. If you miss these two periods, you’ll have to put water into the water heater and boil it with electricity before mixing it with cold water for a suitable temperature.
“Oh, it’s winter now. There’s not much water, and the residential area only provides electricity for five hours a day. From 11:30 to 1:30 in the afternoon and from 5:30 to 8:30 in the evening. Keep track of the time yourselves.”
Long Yuehong and the others were not surprised by Auntie Nan’s reminder. After all, the energy supply in Pangu Biology was stricter than that. They were all rationed.
“If we use electricity to boil water ourselves, do we need to pay an additional fee?” Jiang Baimian knew that Bai Chen might not be in a position to ask such a question, so she took the initiative to take on the responsibility of bargaining.
Auntie Nan glanced at Bai Chen. “One canned food every four times. If you want us to prepare your meals, you have to tell us in advance.”
After confirming the details, Jiang Baimian waved Auntie Nan farewell and walked toward the rooms along the cold corridor, where its two ends were illuminated by light.
The two doors stood facing each other. They were painted dark red, and they had certain traces of damage. They gave off an ancient feeling.
The decorations in the room were the same: a bunk bed, a table against the window, a wooden cabinet with signs of worms, and two square stools.
Due to the climate and environment here, the air was slightly humid. The coldness seemed to penetrate their clothes and reach deep into their bones.
“Same old rules.” Jiang Baimian pulled out the brass key to the room by the street. “I’ll share a room with Shang Jianyao. The two of you will share a room.”
She had to look after Shang Jianyao personally to prevent him from doing anything during his bouts of brain spasms.
For example, turning on his speaker and disturbing the people living nearby late at night.
For example, he would jump out of the window and ‘participate’ when he heard a commotion on the streets.
Bai Chen was clearly unable to deal with Shang Jianyao.
Without giving Shang Jianyao a chance to speak, Jiang Baimian flipped her wrist and looked at her electronic watch. “There’s still ten minutes to 12:30. Everyone, make the best use of your time to take a tactical shower and change your clothes. We will then head out for a meal and contact the intelligence agents.”
Jiang Baimian preferred electronic watches over mechanical watches because they had more functions.
To this day, the Old Task Force’s members could be considered well-trained. They each took two minutes to finish their shower and change into clothes that were closer to those of ordinary Ruin Hunters and Weed City civilians.
Shang Jianyao wore a short, dark-blue down jacket. The material was slightly old, but it wasn’t that shriveled. For his bottoms, he wore a thick pair of pants made of a thick, blue, diagonal-patterned cloth. It had very little impact on his actions.
Long Yuehong was wearing a black cotton jacket that reached his thighs; Jiang Baimian was in the same style as him, and Bai Chen was wearing a gray windproof suit that just covered her armed belt.
Their pants were about the same as Shang Jianyao’s. The men wore brown, high-heeled leather shoes, and the women wore short, black boots.
These were perks issued by the company for employees who needed to carry out missions on the surface during winter.
“Hide your pistols well.” Bai Chen pulled the scarf around her neck and reminded them, “In Weed City, there’s a relatively strange ban—’don’t let the patrolmen see your weapons.’”
Those placed in gun shops didn’t count.
“They aren’t forbidden, but we can’t let the patrolmen see them?” Long Yuehong asked in surprise.
“Yes.” Bai Chen nodded. “The first time they see it, they will confiscate your weapons. The second time they see it, they will lock you up for a month. The third time they see it, you’ll be locked up for three months before being expelled from the city. You will also be deemed ‘unwelcome.’ This will also result in the deduction of your credit with the Hunter’s Guild.”
“How strange. Can’t they just ban guns?” Long Yuehong expressed his confusion.
For example, Pangu Biology had a clear gun ban.
“I don’t know why,” Bai Chen replied calmly.
Jiang Baimian smiled. “In many places, there are similar restrictions that puzzle people. Every restriction has a very deep historical reason.”
“What’s the reason for Weed City’s restriction?” asked Long Yuehong.
Jiang Baimian shot him a glance. “I don’t know either. I hope I can find an answer later. Doing such digging is a form of pleasure.”
In fact, she had a certain guess. However, it was difficult to say it without confidence.
After chatting about this topic, Jiang Baimian looked at Shang Jianyao—who was crazily giving hints by rubbing his stomach—and chuckled. “Let’s go. Time for our meal.”
Upon hearing this, Shang Jianyao turned around first and walked along the cold corridor to the stairwell.
After going down to the parking lot, Bai Chen pointed at the jeep. “We have to exchange stuff for coins.”
“How do we exchange?” Long Yuehong always asked questions for anything he didn’t know. He was an excellent student.
“At the municipal building, there’s a row of ‘kiosks.’ You can use different supplies to exchange for local money. If you aren’t afraid of trouble and have acquaintances, you can go to the Hunter’s Guild, a bar, a teahouse, or a nightclub to exchange for money in the underground market. It will give a better rate,” Bai Chen explained simply. “In Weed City and in First City’s sphere of influence, all open transactions can be done using their currency.”
“Is that so…” Long Yuehong suddenly had a sense of anticipation because this was something he had never experienced before. It was very refreshing.
Jiang Baimian thought for a moment and said, “Let’s go to the kiosk. It’s best not to make contact with the underground factions here before establishing contact with the company’s intelligence personnel.”
Bai Chen had no objections. She pointed at the remaining cans, energy bars, and compressed biscuits and inquired, “How much do we bring?”
“What’s your take?” Jiang Baimian had always respected the judgment of those with authority.
“Half,” Bai Chen answered without hesitation. “The value of the coins here often fluctuates. It’s safer to keep more supplies with us.”
“Fluctuation?” Long Yuehong questioned curiously.
Bai Chen casually replied, “In First City, the one with the smallest denomination is Cass, followed by Drace, and the largest is Oray. Under normal circumstances, one company contribution point is equivalent to 2c when it comes to buying supplies. 1d is equivalent to 10c, and one 1o is equivalent to 10d. Yes, that means that 1o can buy one pound of raw pork, but sometimes, they can only buy eight ounces. Sometimes, it can buy one pound and two ounces, or more.”
Cass, Drace, and Oray were words in the Red River language. They originated from the names of a few leaders back when First City was established. 1c, 1d, and 1o—were the simplified way of calling them in Ashlandic.
The official language in Weed City was the Red River language, but the commoners mainly spoke Ashlandic.
“In that case, won’t we earn a sum sometimes?” Long Yuehong asked with great acumen.
“That’s right.” Jiang Baimian smiled. “In the Old World, this is a specialized trade. Now, it doesn’t matter if you occasionally earn money. Those who do it for a living will be directly dragged out to face a firing squad.”
“Cannon fire,” Bai Chen corrected.
This was First City’s habit of punishing such people. They would finish off one batch at a time.
Long Yuehong hissed and took a deep breath of cold air. He deeply felt a chill run down his spine.
This time, Jiang Baimian heard someone’s stomach rumble without Shang Jianyao’s hint. She smiled and ended the topic before pointing outside. “Move the things up!”