The First Order Book 2 Chapter 135
Volume 2 Chapter 135 Contamination
The streetcar rattled along the track inside the stronghold. It wasn't that Ren Xiaosu had not been in one before, but that this was his first time seeing this mode of "public transportation."
When anyone boarded the streetcar, they just needed to drop 20 cents into a box at the entrance and they could ride to places far away. It wouldn't even be a problem to ride from the origin station to the terminal station.
Wang Fugui had heard of streetcars long ago. After all, there would always be mention of new and quirky stuff in the stronghold whenever he interacted with the stronghold's residents.
So when Ren Xiaosu mentioned he wanted to tour the stronghold, Wang Fugui said that taking the streetcar would be the easiest and most economic mode of transportation.
"Bro," Yan Liuyuan said while leaning on the windowsill, "the stronghold's residents will definitely not have anything to worry about. It's so safe and convenient to live inside here. They can enjoy a life that is hundreds of times better than the refugees by just working an easy job in the stronghold."
"How can people not have any worries?" Ren Xiaosu sat beside him and said with a smile, "Even Luo Lan will have things to worry about. Something like that does not decrease with the increase of material gains."
"That's true." Yan Liuyuan nodded. "Then do you think there is anyone in the world who does not have anything to worry about?"
Ren Xiaosu said, "Yeah, the dead."
Yan Liuyuan slowly turned around and looked at Ren Xiaosu. "Bro, do you think it's suitable to say something like that on such a happy occasion."
"Even a fool like Chen Wudi has his own worries." Ren Xiaosu let out a sigh. Chen Wudi was sitting in the last row with his face still swollen. No one knew where this fellow had gone to yesterday and who had given him such a beating.
On either side of the street in this stronghold city, people were selling all sorts of things, like soup dumplings, tofu brains, and other breakfast foods. Some shops also sold all kinds of hardware products and groceries.
Pedestrians were walking on sidewalks, and cyclists would occasionally speed past them.
Ren Xiaosu asked, "How much does a bicycle cost in the stronghold? I feel like it's quite convenient to travel around on one instead of having to walk."
Once, an "esquire" in town bought a bicycle that had circulated out of the stronghold, but it was stolen on that very same night by someone else. To escape the pursuit of the esquire, the thief rode the bicycle all the way to another stronghold.
A bicycle was a luxury item in town. It was something you couldn't buy even if you wanted to.
"I'll go ask around this afternoon." Wang Fugui said, "It shouldn't be cheap. After all, resources are so scarce these days. You can see that those riding bicycles are wearing clothes of relatively better quality. It seems that they're considered quite well-off in the stronghold."
"I should've found out more from Jiang Wu on our way here to the stronghold," regretted Ren Xiaosu. They had never been in a stronghold before, but Jiang Wu grew up in one.
But by now, Jiang Wu had reported to the school to continue working as a teacher. She was probably also going to be teaching at 13th High.
On the way, Ren Xiaosu heard some people around him talking. "Have you heard? Stronghold 113 has been given up on. It's said the recent earthquake collapsed Stronghold 113. Even the Qing Consortium's people have fled here to our stronghold."
"For real?" someone said in surprise. "It wasn't mentioned on the radio."
"They definitely wouldn't tell you anything about it on the radio," the first person said with a smile. "But I have a friend who has a working relationship with the Qing Consortium, and he told me that the big shots from the Qing Consortium arrived at our stronghold. They even brought in dozens of refugees with them."
"Refugees?" The other person said in surprise, "Shouldn't the refugees be obediently working outside the stronghold? Why did they come in?"
Ren Xiaosu gave them a look but did not say anything. He heard someone else say, "Who knows? I wonder if they brought in any diseases, germs, or contamination from the outside."
"Shh, look at those people behind us. I think they might be those refugees!" someone said in shock.
With this reminder, the others on the streetcar also turned around and looked at them. The more they looked at them, the more they felt that Ren Xiaosu and company might really be refugees.
Yan Liuyuan was surprised when he saw all of these people disembarking at the next stop.
After just one stop, they were the only ones left on the streetcar. If the driver weren't required to operate the streetcar, Yan Liuyuan sensed he would also have gotten out!
Ren Xiaosu scrutinized the six of themselves. Today, all of them had put on their newly washed clothes, and everyone had taken a hot water bath too, so their faces and bodies were no longer dirty.
But the fashion of clothing the refugees could buy and their tanned skin contrasted too greatly from those of the stronghold residents.
"Bro," Yan Liuyuan whispered, "I feel like the stronghold's residents aren't too friendly."
The residents in the stronghold did not even come over to check with them and just avoided them as though they were the plague after guessing they might be refugees.
All because they could be carrying germs from the outside, and because the stronghold had spread word that refugees were not allowed on the inside due to their "contamination."
Ren Xiaosu did not reply to him. He calmly said, "Big Sister Xiaoyu, buy two new sets of clothes for each one of us tomorrow. Everyone will start wearing their new clothes so that we can blend in with the residents of the stronghold."
"I'm not going to wear them," Yan Liuyuan protested softly. It would feel like he was bowing down to the stronghold's residents if he wore the new clothes.
Ren Xiaosu said, "Whether we're living in the wilderness or the stronghold, you must blend in with and understand your surroundings to survive. Only then will you have the ability to resist. When you can't change the environment, you must first learn how to disguise yourself."
Wang Fugui was stunned to hear this. He didn't expect Ren Xiaosu would apply his wilderness survival principles to living in the stronghold. So was he also treating the stronghold like a place in the wilderness?
They heard Ren Xiaosu add, "We might still have to leave the stronghold someday, so let's be prepared for that."
Yan Liuyuan's eyes lit up. As someone who knew Ren Xiaosu best, he could tell that Ren Xiaosu had already made up his mind about leaving!
But Wang Fugui smiled and said, "Why don't we leave tomorrow then? For some reason, I always felt more comfortable living in town."
"There's no hurry." Ren Xiaosu shook his head and said, "And we can't go outside anyway. Let's talk about it when I find a chance."
At this moment, the streetcar reached the terminal station. Ren Xiaosu and the others had planned to stay on the streetcar for the return trip at first. However, they saw many residential houses further out from where the terminal station was, and they even came with yards!
From a distance, it looked like this area was rather large, but it was also much more secluded when compared with other places.
Ren Xiaosu tapped on the streetcar operator and asked, "What is that place?"
"That's an affluent neighborhood in our stronghold." The driver said, "Only the rich and powerful live here. There's no trolley tracks going there since everyone who lives there has their own car." As the driver spoke, he kept inching back as he was afraid of getting too close to Ren Xiaosu.
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