569 Never coming back
But reality proved this false. More than a week had already passed since the day the Experimentals attacked the city for the first time, yet Stronghold 74 did not even see any signs of the reinforcements arriving.
When Li Ran and the others first started eating the rations, they did not control the amount of food they ate. Everyone just ate as usual, so the food they bought previously was almost gone.
Zhou Yingxue even warned them at the beginning, but everyone felt the war would be over soon. When the time came, they would not be able to leave with the food either, so they might as well finish it all. Hence, Zhou Yingxue did not say anything else. At most, she could just eat the potatoes with her master. It wasn’t like the lives of these people had anything to do with her anyway!
At this point, Li Ran and the others were starting to worry about the food shortage when they saw how hopeless the situation had become. However, they remembered that Zhou Yingxue had warned them earlier, yet they did not heed her advice.
As such, they were embarrassed to ask for Zhou Yingxue’s help to think of a solution. Meanwhile, Ren Xiaosu was unaffected by the situation as he could not even be bothered with them.
Of course, it was because they were not in a dire situation yet. If they got really hungry, these people would probably even be willing to eat tree bark, not to mention begging others for help.
But at that time, it would be difficult to say if there would still be any bark left on the streets.
In any case, Ren Xiaosu wasn’t panicking. He would go out every day to check on the situation in the city to see if any Experimentals had come to attack. Nothing else mattered to him.
The food he’d hoarded in his storage space was enough to last him and Zhou Yingxue for another three months at least. Furthermore, there were many varieties of food, like the entire herd of wild boars he had killed. There were still three of them left.
Two days later, Li Ran and the others kept wondering why they could smell a faint aroma of meat inside the hotel. However, when they searched for the source of the smell, they could not find anything. They even thought they might be hallucinating from hunger.
That was until they saw the gloss of oil on Zhou Yingxue’s lips.
Zhou Yingxue did not seem to have any intention of eating inconspicuously. The pork was given by her master, after all, and it wasn’t like she stole or seized it from anyone, so she did not have the obligation to share it with others, right?
On that same day, something extremely strange happened.
There were soldiers lying behind the defensive fortifications on the top of the stronghold walls when they saw an Experimental crawling over at high speed with something hanging in its mouth.
Everyone was a little puzzled by the sight. What was the Experimental coming here for? To surrender? Could infighting have arisen among the Experimentals as well?
The Experimental came to the bottom of the stronghold walls and dropped whatever was in its mouth before turning around and retreating back into the dark forest.
The garrison troops on the stronghold walls looked at each other and quickly lowered someone in a gondola car to pick up the item the Experimental had dropped. They found a white cloth.
When Zhou Xingwen heard about this, he ran to the top of the stronghold walls and took the white cloth from the soldier’s hands. On it were a few words written in fresh blood: “Negotiations. Come alone.”
Instantly, Zhou Xingwen’s scalp tingled. The Experimentals actually knew how to write and even used the term “negotiation”?
Humans negotiating with the Experimentals? How was that supposed to be carried out?
Old Li and Qin Sheng rushed over as well. The Pyro Company members, who were already on the stronghold walls when the Experimental came over, started explaining the situation to them. Old Li suddenly said, “I’ll go!”
Qin Sheng turned to look at Old Li. “Teacher, you can’t go. There’s probably at least ten thousand Experimentals still in that forest.”
“It’s OK.” Old Li waved the white cloth in his hand and said with a smile, “Someone has to go see what the Experimentals are up to, right? I have no children, no partner, no worries, and my only disciple has also graduated. I should be the one to do this.”
The Zhou Consortium officers nearby did not say anything. They were definitely not going. They felt a deep admiration for Old Li when they heard he was willing to volunteer.
And it did not seem this Rider was scared either from the way he was laughing and chatting.
Old Li’s smile gradually faded. “Moreover, it’s obvious there’s an intelligent being that’s controlling those Experimentals. If the other party wants to negotiate with me, I might just be able to get close and kill it. If that happens, this crisis involving the Experimentals will probably be resolved as well.”
As for what came after that, Old Li would definitely get surrounded and killed by the other Experimentals after taking out their leader. No matter how powerful he was, it would be impossible for him to take on that many Experimentals.
However, he did not say anything regarding the consequences. Since he had decided to go, he would have to prepare to die.
Qin Sheng wanted to stop him, but before he could say anything, Old Li stopped him. Old Li smiled and said, “This is really exciting, isn’t it?”
In the afternoon, Old Li rappeled down the stronghold walls and walked into the forest alone. But just as he entered the forest, he discovered there were Experimentals constantly moving around and surrounding him in the shadows.
The Experimentals did not attack Old Li. Instead, they opened up a path for him to walk straight into the depths of the forest.
Old Li stepped on soft leaves as he walked. Fall had passed, and the leaves that had fallen onto the soil had turned to duff. Old Li’s ending was not going to be that different from the fallen leaves; it was just a matter of time.
Thinking this, Old Li strode forward with long strides. He looked at the Experimentals next to him like they were nothing.
After walking for about two kilometers, Old Li saw an Experimental sitting at a campfire in front of him. It was holding a tree branch in its gray hand, a sparrow impaled on it.
Old Li stood still and surveyed his surroundings silently. He wanted to see if there would be a chance for him to kill the other party. However, before he made his move, he still needed to hear what it had to say first.
But how were they going to talk? Through writing?
While Old Li was letting his imagination wander, the Experimental suddenly laughed hoarsely. “I’ve seen you before. That evening, you were up on the mountain with a young man beside you. Why isn’t he here as well?”
Old Li was shocked. So this Experimental could actually speak!
The Experimentals mutated from humans, so it should be quite normal that they could speak a human language. But still, Old Li found it very unusual!
The Experimental’s voice was extremely hoarse and sounded like two pieces of sandpaper scraping against each other. “Don’t be so surprised. I’m also human. We only became like this because we wanted to cure our illness. It’s just that some of us are lucky like me to be able to gradually regain our sapience, while the others unfortunately turned into monsters.”
Old Li frowned but did not say anything. What the other party was telling him was an information overload.
The Experimental looked at him and waved the sparrow on the stick while saying with a smile, “This is for you. I used to like eating roast meat too. But now, I prefer raw and bloody meat more. Sometimes, I even like to eat something that’s rotting for a change of taste. You can just stand over there. If you get any closer, you’ll die here. You don’t have to think about killing me. Your kind can’t.” With that, the Experimental threw the sparrow to Old Li.
Old Li accepted the sparrow graciously. He raised it to his mouth and tore off a piece of meat from it. As he chewed, he asked, “Isn’t it better to be human? Meat only tastes good if it’s cooked.”
“That’s exactly why I’m looking for you.” The Experimental said in a hoarse voice, “Help me find someone. If you can find him, we’ll return to the forest, or we can head south and never come back again.”