Chapter 207: “Mercenaries”
As the jeep followed the road illuminated by the yellow car headlights in the deep night, it drove toward the southeast area of the city filled with abandoned buildings.
Long Yuehong’s heart involuntarily palpitated. Although he was no longer considered a rookie in the Ashlands, this was his first time directly going to the front line.
This was different from the riot in Weed City. It could barely be considered a formal battle.
Just as Long Yuehong quietly took deep breaths to calm his nerves, Shang Jianyao held the steering wheel with one hand and took out the small, black speaker with a blue bottom from his tactical backpack with the other.
After pressing it a few times, a passionate melody echoed in the jeep.
The music this time wasn’t mixed with human voices, but it made Long Yuehong’s blood boil. It was as if he had become a lone hero about to fight 100 people alone.
Long Yuehong turned his head and asked curiously, “What’s the name of this song?” Compared to before, he was clearly much calmer.
“I don’t know. Pure music.” Shang Jianyao swayed his body and replied with a smile, “You can call it a ‘going forth’ song.”
As Long Yuehong felt the passion and excitement brought about by the music, he looked at the earthen-yellow, all-terrain vehicle ahead as it steadily moved through the ruins filled with collapsed buildings and destroyed roads.
He couldn’t help but sigh. “Team Leader previously made us drive around Redstone Collection. It turns out it’s really useful…”
Although it was impossible for them to clearly grasp the situation of each path in such a short period of time since this city ruin wasn’t small, they still had a clear understanding of the buildings and common roads in the main areas.
Coupled with the map provided by Song He, they could easily reach their destination even though it was already late into the night.
Upon hearing Long Yuehong’s sigh, Shang Jianyao turned his head to glance at him and asked in confusion, “I thought you should’ve understood the importance of familiarizing yourself with the environment back in Weed City.”
“It was mainly Bai Chen who led the way. I didn’t experience it too deeply,” Long Yuehong explained rather honestly.
Shang Jianyao expressed his understanding and seriously suggested, “Hide and seek is the best way to familiarize yourself with the environment. I’ll bring you to the Vigilance Church’s Mass next time.”
You are the one who wants to participate, right? Long Yuehong didn’t voice his thoughts. He stopped chatting and tried his best to prep himself.
After an unknown period of time, Jiang Baimian issued an order through the walkie-talkie. “Turn off the headlights, slow down, and turn on the sound system.”
They had already arrived at Aiur Supermarket and Sixth Day Mall, but they didn’t hear any gunshots or salvos.
Shang Jianyao immediately rolled down the window and adjusted the content on the small speaker before increasing the volume to its maximum.
Soon, a loud male voice sounded from the jeep that seemed to blend into the darkness. “We are a Ruin Hunter team. We were entrusted by Harbinger Song He to deliver firearms!”
“We are a Ruin Hunter team. We were entrusted by Harbinger Song He to deliver firearms!”
As the volume was loud, Long Yuehong’s ears buzzed. This sentence kept echoing in his mind.
He opened his mouth and subconsciously wanted to say something, but his words were drowned out by the sound.
In the yellow, all-terrain vehicle ahead, Bai Chen’s expression turned a little strange.
Jiang Baimian sensed her change and asked loudly, “What’s wrong?” She manually closed all the windows, reducing the ‘noise pollution’ from Shang Jianyao to a level that didn’t affect the conversation.
Bai Chen took a deep breath in and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Back when I wandered the Ashlands, I often drove to different settlements to exchange items. Sometimes, in order to save time, we will also get a loudspeaker and constantly blast it to inform others about what they want.”
As Jiang Baimian observed her surroundings, she curiously asked, “For example?”
Bai Chen fell silent for a few seconds before looking ahead. “Rice, flour, and canned food for kitchen knives, pistols, bullet shells, and all kinds of metallic items.”
Jiang Baimian chuckled. “Were you the one who suggested Auntie Nan and the others to ‘take in broken pistols, broken rifles, and broken submachine guns’ at their entrance?”
Bai Chen pursed her lips and said, “Every nomad with similar experiences knows a few sentences.”
Without waiting for Jiang Baimian’s response, she said in a deep voice, “Team Leader, we’re almost at our destination. Pay attention to your surroundings.”
“Oh, you’re pissed…” Jiang Baimian muttered in a relaxed manner.
Bai Chen looked ahead and quickly replied, “I’m not.”
“Then, are you embarrassed?” Jiang Baimian asked with a smile.
Bai Chen fell silent.
Jiang Baimian knew when to stop. As she sensed the electric signals, she constantly sized up the buildings and ruins on both sides of the road under the moonlight.
In less than a minute, she picked up the walkie-talkie and said, “You can turn off the speaker now and maintain a sufficient distance from us.”
Every muscle in her body tensed up slightly as she prepared to deal with any accidents.
After dozens of seconds, two figures drilled out of a collapsed building in front of them. They carried their assault rifles and went down the cleared path to the all-terrain vehicle that had stopped.
In the surrounding darkness, countless guns were trained on them.
The two figures wore animal masks and hoods, making it impossible to tell if they were Red River people or Ashlanders.
After sizing them up for a while, the woman in a bull mask said in Ashlandic, “Are you the Ruin Hunters who took on Helvig’s mission?”
“That’s right. We found Helvig’s firearms and want to sell our portion to the town guards. I would like to know where Captain Han is.” Jiang Baimian didn’t feel uneasy about guns being pointed at them at all as she explained with a smile.
“You’ve found them?” The woman in the bull mask was a little surprised.
Jiang Baimian tersely acknowledged it. “Harbinger Song can testify.”
The woman in the bull mask fell silent for a few seconds before picking up the walkie-talkie and reporting this matter to Han Wanghuo.
Before long, the sheriff came over. He was wearing black clothes and no mask.
After checking Helvig’s firearms and the Old Task Force’s supplies, Han Wanghuo—who was carrying a rifle and had two United 202s—didn’t waste his breath and directly asked, “What do you want in exchange?”
“The town guard’s military exoskeleton,” Jiang Baimian—who was wearing an elegant monk mask—replied frankly. “Just one. Payment can be made after this war ends.”
Upon seeing Han Wanghuo frown, she smiled and added, “Anhebus has already confessed in the cathedral and is willing to contribute more to Redstone Collection’s resistance against the Subhumans. When the situation stabilizes, you should be able to obtain a new military exoskeleton through him. This might take a year or so, but you can afford to wait. We can’t.”
Han Wanghuo fell silent for a moment before saying, “I can’t agree directly. I’ll discuss it with the others.”
Jiang Baimian—who knew that he couldn’t make a decision in Redstone Collection—expressed her understanding. “Alright, but please be quick. We can wait, but the merfolk and mountain monsters won’t wait.”
Han Wanghuo nodded slightly and walked to the side.
After a few steps, he turned around and asked, “Aren’t you afraid that the town guards will forcefully expropriate the items or even kill you to snatch the goods?”
Jiang Baimian smiled.
But before she could answer in accordance with her ultimate villain identity, Shang Jianyao—who had driven the jeep over—shouted, “We believe in you!”
Han Wanghuo was stunned for a moment. After a while, he said bitterly, “There are some things that I can’t stop.”
He didn’t say anything else and walked to the side of the collapsed building. He then used the walkie-talkie to communicate with the town guards who had true authority.
After ten minutes, he walked back to the all-terrain vehicle and said to Jiang Baimian and the others, “Deal.”
“Happy to cooperate.” Jiang Baimian wanted to extend her right hand and shake his hand, but she gave up on the idea after considering Redstone Collection’s customs.
Although she knew that Han Wanghuo wasn’t a believer of the Vigilance Church and that shaking hands was nothing to be concerned about, the surrounding Redstone townsfolk believed in Eidolon Nun. What if they became vigilant and decided to stop the transaction because of their handshake?
It was better to be safe than sorry!
Han Wanghuo exhaled and described the exact plan. “Leave the firearms and supplies to me first and distribute them. After we defeat the merfolk and mountain monsters and seriously deal a blow to them, we’ll transfer an AC-42 military exoskeleton to you.”
“No problem.” Jiang Baimian didn’t hesitate to agree.
Han Wanghuo felt a little uneasy and asked after some deliberation, “Aren’t you afraid that we will lose the war with the Subhumans and have the two exoskeletons fall into their hands?”
What he really wanted to ask was: Aren’t you afraid of us reneging on our debt later?
Shang Jianyao replied first again. “We’ll get it back.” He spoke with abnormal confidence.
Jiang Baimian laughed and added, “We can collect debts, armed.”
Upon seeing the other party’s confidence, Han Wanghuo began to inform the town guards everywhere in the defense line to find time to come and collect new supplies.
This didn’t mean that they no longer had any guns or bullets. Instead, they had to be prepared to split up and make use of the city ruins to fight a prolonged battle.
As the supplies were distributed, Han Wanghuo looked at Jiang Baimian and the others. “Is there anything else?”
Jiang Baimian had a plan and asked with a smile, “Do you want to hire mercenaries? Just give us food for a week. The main reason is that we have to look after our property and not let it be lost.”
She wanted to take this opportunity to let the team endure some hardships so that they could have experience dealing with such situations in the future.
Han Wanghuo picked up the walkie-talkie again and walked to his previous position to discuss with his nominal subordinates.
This time, he quickly returned and nodded. “Alright, just follow me.”
As soon as she was hired, Jiang Baimian immediately got into the groove. She looked southeast and said, “Captain Han, don’t you find it strange? The merfolk and mountain monsters haven’t attacked yet. How long has it been?”
They had all come from the Vigilance Cathedral north of the city. The supplies they had brought were almost done being distributed.
Along the way, they didn’t hear any obvious gunshots or salvos.
“This is also why we hired you,” Han Wanghuo said with a solemn expression. “The team that discovered the merfolk and mountain monsters hasn’t returned.”
The southeast corner of the city ruin was eerily silent.