Chapter 353: Inhabited Area
Within the car, Old Jin's gluttonous nature didn't change. His hand held a bag of food. This time it was a popular snack; roasted donkey meat with four long slices of flat bread stacked atop each other, alternating meat and bread. It was very thick.
The greasy red meat bread went inside Old Jin's mouth the moment Ink flew inside. He bit it in half with one bite, the roasted chunks of meat dribbling with oil, seeping into his beard. He ate quite energetically.
Seeing these things, Luo Nan's sensory organs felt conflicted. He didn't know whether to feel full or hungry.
Sitting in the back seat, Peony's behavior was opposite of Old Jin's. She sat in absolute silence. She held a book in her hands, reading it. The book was a paperback, something rarely seen these days. The thin pages and the print were extremely delicate, but the book appeared to be quite well-used. The pages were warped and old.
Luo Nan easily used his senses. The words "The Lotus Sutra" could be read on the warped cover of the book. Luo Nan recalled that this was a Buddhist text.
This was something very rarely seen.
When reading, Peony lacked her usual easygoing charm. She sat ramrod straight, her long slender fingers resting on the pages, seemingly moving yet not. Ink made quite the noise when it came crashing inside, but she lifted not even her head. This wasn't arrogance. This was genuine concentration.
Luo Nan felt that the world was aware and was full of irony. First was "The Book of the Dao,” then it was "The Lotus Sutra.” What was going on today? Would someone bring out the "Holy Bible" later today?
Nobody turned superfluous after Ink squeezed its way in. The ordinary SUV started up and entered the high-speed magnetic rails, following the signs toward Man City. They were leaving Xia City.
According to the schedule, today's main item was still a meeting; an on-site meeting. Trigate Security arranged the entire team to do an on-site investigation of the situation regarding the Mutants that infiltrated. They also arranged it to introduce more detailed information.
Peony only closed her book after the car started. She put in a bookmark and looked at the book with quite a cherishing expression. Perhaps this book held some significant meaning to her.
Luo Nan made this conjecture based on his own point of view.
In any case, Peony clearly didn't intend to chat with him about sutras or private matters. Her gaze shifted to Ink, and her eyes curved into charming arcs once more.
"Crow, you nearly caused Mr. Ink to be late."
The odd names and the beings they were attached to would make those who weren't familiar with this team have their scalp go numb. Luo Nan recalled the small dialogue last night that had to do with these names. That conversation was the longest they chatted last night.
Perhaps Peony's preliminary judgment of his character was largely derived from this?
Luo Nan was not an expert on such analysis. He simply disregarded her and maintained his silence.
Peony expressed herself quite actively, "For the sake of improving efficiency, we can change the way the team moves. For instance, Mr. Ink can be together with me from beginning to end. This is to avoid all sorts of sudden occurrences from causing awkward circumstances."
She didn't describe what the awkward circumstances were in detail, but Luo Nan could roughly imagine it.
Peony asked, "Does Mr. Ink need to recharge?"
Recharge? Luo Nan was stunned for a moment before understanding. Peony was asking about how things worked between him and Ink. Luo Nan didn't respond directly. Instead, he gave a small lie.
"If you don't mind, then I'll have Ink accompany you for a few days. I can connect at any time."
Ink was able to tell that the two were talking about it. It cast pitch-black pupils to the slender figure in the backseat, not blinking an eye.
"That's great." It seemed that Peony didn't hear the tiny bit of ill intent in Luo Nan's words. She just reached out a hand and patted Ink on its ash-white beak. She teased the enormous rook as she said, "From the intelligence gained last night, the area of importance where the targets have infiltrated ranges from the west side of the River Wu District all the way to outside the main city district. The situation with the recycling stratum is slightly more complicated. I plan to find a temporary place to live in within the River Wu District to engage in all-day reconnaissance."
Luo Nan thought of his little nest within Blue Bay…. All right, he obviously wouldn't offer it.
He didn't possess Peony's outstanding intelligence analysis ability. He didn't speak, doing his utmost to keep his mouth shut. He would talk after they had reached the site to go investigate.
The ordinary SUV weaved in and out of the early morning traffic. It took about half an hour for the SUV to enter the River Wu District and the bordering Forestwall District. They were outside the main area of Xia City by now, and they set off toward Trigate District to the west. According to the normal driving route, they would be able to reach the surrounding wilderness in an hour if they went along satellite towns at high speeds. There wasn't anything to say about the route to the Trigate District located several dozen kilometers away.
But reality proved itself to be complicated. It was impossible for the Mutants who had infiltrated Xia City to stick close to the high-speed route for their advancement. On the contrary, they followed their instinct to seek luck and avoid calamity. They avoided places where there were many people, such as the main traffic roads guarded under martial law. They acted quite rationally.
The ordinary SUV left the main road soon after it left the main city district. Four gears touched the earth, and thus began the bumpy journey. The roads here were extremely bad, a first that Luo Nan had ever seen in his life. It was as if an air raid had rained down on this place. There were craters everywhere.
Old Jin, who sat in the driver's seat, grasped the steering wheel. He had switched from automatic driving mode to manual mode. He just yawned, giving the riders in the car complex emotions.
Old Jin was silent most of the time after the few words he spoke in the very beginning. He just expressed himself by stuffing his stomach full of food. He wasn't cold or friendly. He gave off an aura of a guy who just cared about clocking in and clocking out of work.
He said it himself—he was just a driver.
Luo Nan sought nothing else from a driver. He was just baffled. What the heck was the government of Xia City doing? There were people living here. It was a standing living area. Even the roads at the recycling stratum were much better than the ones here.
Actually, there were several things quite in line with the recycling stratum on the two sides of the road. There were short buildings strewn at random, many of them being temporary buildings. However, they looked quite new based on their paint job. He could even vaguely see kids playing by the side of the road, giggling in fun.
Luo Nan recalled the data and was certain that they were at the edge of the Trigate District. Trigate District was once the station for Xia City's garrison camp, having been decommissioned not too long ago. Military had guarded this place year-round, causing clear differences with the modern metropolis. Traces of things having been moved could be seen everywhere as well.
Then someone came calling through the wristband, "Miss Peony, hello. I am Axel Thue of Trigate Security. Please report your location."
This Axel Thue fellow was the intelligence officer on the Trigate Security's action team. He was in charge of contact work, and he was in charge of explaining the data during yesterday's meeting. He was an astute man.
Peony started up the position sharing function on her wristband, and Axel Thue soon responded, "I see you guys."
A large transport vehicle was parked to the side of the road just ahead. It turned on its lights as his voice fell. The body of the vehicle was pitch-black, and it started up, signalling Luo Nan's party to follow it.
The ordinary SUV was quite suited for the surrounding environment, but the dual-purpose military-police transport vehicle of Trigate Security was more eye-catching, though the equipment and people it was transporting had it easy. The transport had attracted the gazes of quite a few people when it was parked by the road. When the transport began to move, kids riding skateboards, go-karts, and so on tailed behind the transport. They played quite exuberantly, producing a rather comical scene.
The party of people went through this inhabited area under this odd atmosphere until they arrived at a relatively spacious zone. The two vehicles, large and small, parked. There was a high point not too far away on the right-hand side. A reservoir was built there, and vegetation was dense. There was dark green in the distance, even though it was autumn, and it was rather pleasing to the eyes.
The door to the transport cart opened up, and the personnel of Trigate Security jumped out with cries. Most of the people were carrying equipment that had to be set up once they hit the ground. And within the transport was a complete, modern command center. All sorts of equipment were laid out perfectly, and there were at least thirty people working inside.
Intelligence Officer Axel Thue appeared from the stream of people. He worked toward the ordinary SUV. Peony got off the car as well, extending a hand for a light shake. "Mr. Axel Thue, Director Wu isn't coming today?"
Axel Thue was just about to report on this matter when Peony had seized it first. His aura unconsciously grew a bit diffident, and his report turned into an explanation, "Director Wu is participating in a last minute meeting. He is unable to come here. I represent him in apologizing to Miss Peony and Mr. Long Seven."
"Is Long Seven here already?"
"Mr. Long Seven came here a little earlier. He said that he's going to check out the reservoir."
Peony gazed off into the distance with a subtle smile. She was dressed more or less the same as yesterday, wearing slim-fitting hunting clothes, most suitable for her tall figure. But this time, she didn't wear a ponytail. Her long hair was tied up in a bun, gathered in place by her wide-brimmed hat. The brim of her hat obstructed much of her charming eyes, but the shadow it cast accentuated the contours of her face all the more. She was explosively beautiful.
Ink had just flown out of the car to undoubtedly serve as a prop.
"We have detected the reservoir to be a place of importance."
Intelligence Officer Axel Thue had lectured far too much yesterday. He subconsciously sought to explain, "Trigate District used to be a river channel. The largest freshwater river around Xia City came through here to enter the ocean. But then the military implemented a destruction project during the Third War for the sake of defending against Mutants breaking through from the river channel. The river bank was changed, and the river dried up. Today, this place is a low-lying area, but the groundwater system is still very complex. It needs to be observed with care."
As he spoke, a child around six or seven suddenly ran in front of them. The child opened his mouth and asked, "Are you here to fight gangs?"
The kids from the inhabited area had followed them, and they finally arrived. They might be young, but they were quite interested to know what was going on. Plus, there was an enormous crow here. It was very eye-catching, so they naturally gathered over.
"Gangs?" It looked like Peony was far more interested in this topic than the history of the Trigate District.
Unfortunately, the reckless kid was dragged away by his companions, who ordered the kid to stop talking nonsense. Then the group of kids just faced the beauty, the large vehicle, and the crow with great interest. They stood in a circle and watched, and some even sought a chance to get something for cheap.
They clamored over the body of the vehicle, the first ones having it easy and the latter ones having it hard. They wanted to touch Ink who was on top of the vehicle, but they chased Ink to fly into the sky. Thus, Ink avoided the clutches of evil.
"It's very rare for kids inside the city to be this wild."
There was a deeper meaning behind Peony's words. Axel Thue understood tacitly. "Yes, they should be inhabitants who moved out from the recycling stratum. Rumor has it that there are some naturalized vagrants mixed inside. The social relation is extremely complicated. The military withdrew from this place quite poorly, suddenly turning it to an unregulated zone. Many people want to seize the opportunity for some conveniences."
"Are gangs very rampant here?" The person who asked this wasn't Peony, but a man who had returned who knows when. It was Long Seven, or in other words, Snake Seven.