Chapter 14 – The Old Era and the New
As Han Xiao desperately needed food and water, he gave in to the merchant’s demand.
Sighing, he aligned 150 bullets on the back of the truck.
Suddenly, the big bearded man waved a finger.
Han Xiao glared at him.
“Ohoho! Such scary eyes. Do you want to kill me or something? Quickly, people, come and see! This man wants to kill me!”
Dozens of wanderers gathered around in an instant. Some of them even came with sticks and bats.
“This is our territory. Are you trying to be funny kid?”
“Okay, okay. 180 bullets. Fuck me.”
Han Xiao hastily threw out more bullets in case he jacked the price up further.
The merchant laughed shrewdly and sent someone to fetch the goods.
After confirming the items, Han Xiao raised a middle finger at the merchant before turning around.
Suddenly, the merchant spoke.
“Hey, are you planning to walk out of the forest?”
“Why, you have a problem with that?”
“I have an old pickup. Want it?” asked the bearded merchant nicely.
“Not as though I can afford your price.” Han Xiao shot back.
“Oh, I think you can,” said the merchant as he pointed towards Han Xiao’s bag. “You have so many bullets. You must have many guns too.”
Han Xiao’s bag was indeed full of guns—high quality ones at that. He had looted from the Night Owl Squad. He even had the sniper rifle and some Kevlar vests. He could easily afford an old pickup.
However, Han Xiao shook his head.
A car would leave a trail. Han Xiao would rather not try racing a helicopter. Walking was safer.
Furthermore, if the Germinal Organization’s agents discovered their guns here, it would be disastrous not only for Han Xiao, but for the wanderers here as well. In some sense, it would be dishonest of him to sell them.
Although Han Xiao had recently killed a big number of people, it was not out of perverseness. It was to survive.
The merchant, however, was not an easily dissuaded person.
He was about to speak again when, suddenly, a man’s voice boomed out. “Kai Luo! You’re taking advantage of outsiders again!”
A well-built man clad in hunter’s clothes patched with animal skins appeared behind the crowd. As he strode forward to the centre of the crowd, everyone shifted to make way for him. The man seemed to command respect.
The big bearded merchant groaned.
“Hu Xuan Jun, I just painstakingly closed a deal. Don’t come and interfere!”
Hu Xuan Jun grabbed the bullets on the truck up and pushed them back into Han Xiao.
“The stuff you want isn’t actually worth much. Treat it as a gift. Here, take these back.”
Han Xiao was stunned by the man’s chivalry and stared at him in disbelief. The man was an extremely muscular Mongolian with white hair on the sides of his head, and his eyes were as sharp as an eagle. He looked very much the part of a righteous man, and Han Xiao instantly warmed up to him.
“Hey, what about me?” interrupted Kai Luo.
“Isn’t it just some food? I’ll give you more tomorrow,” replied Hu Xuan Jun casually.
Kai Luo was frustrated. It wasn’t every day that a foreigner came by for him to make a quick buck.
“He who comes from afar is a guest. You look too frail to be travelling alone. Why not recuperate over at my house?”
Han Xiao hesitated. He did indeed need a proper place to recuperate. In any case, Hu Xuan Jun had given him a very good first impression, so he nodded.
As Han Xiao followed Hu Xuan Jun, the crowd scattered. Kai Luo fumed, but there was nothing that he could do. He did not dare to offend Hu Xuan Jun.
Hu Xuan Jun led Han Xiao to his tent. As he entered the tent, he shouted, “An, we have a guest today. Cook more.”
“Okay!” replied a woman’s voice..
Han Xiao followed behind Hu Xuan Jun into the tent. An was a woman who looked rather ordinary and wore a simple waist skirt. Han Xiao noticed that she was blind.
“This is my wife,” introduced Hu Xuan Jun with a smile.
“Nice to meet you,” greeted An as she faced the entrance. She then turned back to pick up crockery, dried meat, and wild vegetables and arranged them inside a simple clay oven in the center of the tent.
Han Xiao and Hu Xuan Jun sat down and chatted away.
After a while, Han Xiao became certain that Hu Xuan Jun did not have any ulterior motives; he was simply an extremely nice person.
“I noticed earlier that most of the people in your community are white. How did you end up with them?” asked Han Xiao.
There were four races of humans on Aquamarine: black, white, yellow, and shanu.
“There wasn’t any special reason for it. It just happened to be a chaotic time. I met some travelers by chance and decided to stay with them as An was sick at the time. Although we come from different countries and are of different races, we are all remnants of the old era, and have all experienced the loss of our countries. There isn’t a need for distinction. We are all human after all.”
Some of those who had lost their countries chose to join the Six Nations. Others opted to join the Germinal Organization. The rest could only become wanderers. Wanderers made up a third of the planet’s population.
Aquamarine used to have over a hundred nations, but that all changed when an advanced civilization came into contact with the planet. The idea of advancing humanity and stepping out into space sparked a movement for sustainability, and the idea of unifying countries gained some popularity. While it was indeed far-fetched to think that that alone could change the face of the entire planet, there were people in power who supported the idea and conspired behind the scenes to make it happen. Long story short, after numerous wars, negotiations, and all kinds of peaceful and non-peaceful efforts, all the countries were united into the Six Nations in the span of a few decades.
Many things that people had once thought to be irreplaceable were simply shove aside by the unstoppable tides of change, and many lives were sacrificed in the process.
Such is civilization. People are like the sediments in the river, destined to go with the flow.
While maintaining the status quo is always easy, revolution always comes with pain and suffering. When comparing individual gain to societal improvement, it is natural for people to favor the former. Truly selfless people are rare creatures, otherwise selflessness would not be seen as a virtue. Statements such as “see, there are still good people in the world” are sad to hear.
Nevertheless, change had come too soon to Aquamarine.
“The Battle of Andrea was the nail in the coffin. Sometimes, I think about the way we took our lives for granted. I miss how life was peaceful back then. Who would have thought that change could come so suddenly? I mean, even if the planet’s resources do end up being depleted, wouldn’t that be in a few hundred years from now? Why do we have to answer for something like that?” lamented Hu Xuan Jun.
Han Xiao sighed empathetically.