Chapter 37 Meat and Weapons
“Don’t worry, it’s gigantic. Cutting off such a small piece is just like pulling a single hair off of a person; it won’t feel anything.” Qing shui quickly put the small section onto the cloth and under the flashlight, both of them witnessed how the small piece of root struggled as if it was a tail that got cut off from a gecko. It splashed corrosive mucus from the cut and burned off a big portion of the cloth.
“Such an amazing plant…” Carefully observing every movement of the root, Qing shui looked at it as if he was holding treasure.
“Alright, we should really hurry up. I feel like you’re getting crazier.” Chang pulled Qing shui towards the iron ladder. “Let’s get out of here, the tree might wake up any moment.”
Qing shui didn’t refute him this time. He carefully wrapped the small piece of root and put away his knife, then climbed up the iron ladder.
“Crazy.” Chang sighed as he followed Qing shui. They returned to the world shrouded with red fog.
“Let’s go back to the base.” After they came out, Pangzi and Jing were relieved. Their faces showed a hint of relaxation. They also found those soldiers sitting on the ground ripping the plants.
“Those plants aren’t edible.” Qing shui patted their shoulders, “You’ll have diarrhea that might even pull your bowels out.”
“Oh…” They threw away the bok choy-like plants suspiciously, with voices filled of pity. “Let’s go back then.”
“Great,” Chang nodded first. He didn’t want to stay here a second longer.
The group travelled back to the base without speaking. Chang, Qing shui, Pangzi and Jing were led to an office under the guidance of those soldiers – someone that looked like a captain stood in the room, apparently having waited for them this whole time. Chang and Qing shui looked up and down at the soldier, and Chang realized he had seen him before – he was the person who handled the argument between Chang and his roommate.
“Captain.” Chang had a good impression of him and hence, he greeted him first.
The captain’s mind went blank for a second; obviously, he also remembered this young man.
“Good to see you again. Have a seat.” The captain pointed to the chairs in front of his desk and said, “The main reason I called you here was because I wanted to talk to you about two things. First, I want to thank you for providing your food to the military, and second, I wanted to ask how you managed to get this meat.”
While he spoke, he lifted a parcel from under his desk. “The dog you brought to us weighed 35 kilograms. I have asked my soldiers to leave the inedible parts, so there is about 25 kilograms left. If you agree, we will take 10 kilograms and you will have 15 kilograms, or we could split it differently.”
“Of course, if you let us know how to hunt efficiently, not only will we not take any of your harvest, but we will also provide you extra hardtacks. What do you think?” The captain looked at Qing shui and Chang as he gave the two options.
“I wouldn’t say we have experience to share with you. It was just how much attention we paid to our prey’s sense of smell and hearing. It was something you can find in a book; I don’t have anything to say.” Noticing the captain looking at him, Qing shui added, “the rest was pure luck.”
“Really?” The captain looked across the four one by one and said, “At least one of you are mutated, am I right?”
“Huh?” They were surprised.
“Don’t give me that expression, I have seen some of them already. Our base has more than 1500 soldiers; it wouldn’t be a surprise that a few of them mutated.” The captain knocked on the table, “Have you ever considered serving the military?”
“We were just lucky.” Qing shui murmured emotionlessly.
“Okay… you can come to me anytime if you change your mind. Let’s switch topic and talk about how we should divide the meat.”
“We want the 15 kilogram portion!” Chang said loudly.
“No problem.” The captain nodded and pushed the 15 kilograms of meat to Chang. “Be careful when you eat; it might cause riots. I’ll lend you our kitchen to cook and eat, so no one will know you have food. Also, it has been almost two hours since the dog died, and it is starting to smell bad. Don’t save it for a next meal or something, since it’ll rot quickly.”
“We know.” Taking over the chunks of meat, the bloody smell caused contractions in Chang’s stomach. He didn’t leave immediately, and instead asked, “Can I trade some of the meat we have for a gun?”
“A gun?” The captain frowned.
“Yes, a gun that we can use to hunt in the future.” Chang said so while he held the meat, “We won’t be able finish 15 kilograms of meat in one meal even though we’ve been starving for days, and what’s left over will be wasted. I want to trade 5 kilograms of meat for a rifle so that we have a better chance of surviving…”
“I’m sorry, I don’t have permission to do so!” The captain interrupted Chang. While Chang was disappointed and wanted to change his mind to trading meat for hardtacks, the captain spoke again, “I can’t give you a rifle, but if you’re looking for some hunting tools, a crossbow is a better choice.”
The captain glanced at the soldier standing beside him, and the latter left the room as if he received an order from the captain.
A while later, the soldier came back with a dark green crossbow. He carefully put the crossbow on the table – it was coated with a camouflage pattern, making it easily hidden in the grassy bushes. The barrel of the crossbow was as long as an adult’s arm and the limbs was twice as long as the barrel. It was made of fine metal; the crossbow was light enough to carry around, but heavy enough to make a stable shot.
“How is this? This crossbow is definitely a better weapon than guns and knives when it comes to hunting. It’s flexible and makes almost no sound. In a close or mid-range attack, the arrow can cause more damage than a bullet or a rifle. Although you do need to refill the bow more frequently, it’s not like you are using it for a mass killing, so I don’t think there is another weapon more suitable for you.” The captain ran his hand over the crossbow and said, “How’s this? For 8 kilograms of meat, I’ll give you seven large bolts and ten small ones.”
“Deal!” Staring at the green crossbow, hope raised in Chang’s eyes – with his vision and this weapon, in addition to Jing’s ability and Qing shui’s experience, he believed that the next hunt would be less difficult.
“Good.” The captain ordered his soldier to take away half of Chang’s portion of meat, and Chang received the weapon – the military trade was a complete success.
“You can leave if you have no other issues to discuss with me.” The captain impatiently asked them to leave as the meat started smelling worse; he obviously didn’t want to waste time either.
“Awesome, thank you.” Chang lifted up the parcel of meat and the four left the room.
“This is my last reminder to you. Be careful when you walk back; a hungry crowd can be terribly aggressive, and riots are like a highly contagious disease.”