The First Order Chapter 64
Chapter 64: Satellites
When everyone saw the two lines of writing, the atmosphere in the hollow plummeted to a freezing point.
Since entering the forest today, the group did not encounter any more dangers. Other than exhaustion from a sleepless night, no other strange occurrences took place.
This gave everyone the wrong impression that this place was safer than the canyon and the other places they had been to earlier in the journey. They'd nearly even forgotten about the warning that was written outside the canyon.
But it was all coming back to them at this moment.
The missing corpse of Xu Xia, the horrible face bugs, and those words carved on the cliff wall that warned: "Stop here, ye who live."
"Has anyone gone missing so far?" Xu Xianchu's first reaction was to count the number of people in their group. However, he found that no one was missing.
"Could someone be playing a trick on us by etching those words here?" Liu Bu wondered. "There are no signs of any struggle in this hollow, and we didn't even see any skeletal remains of humans or wild animals along the way."
'Wait a minute!' Liu Bu's words startled Ren Xiaosu. Actually, that was the strangest thing that had been happening. Some skeletal remains would usually be scattered throughout the forest. Be it birds, snakes, or any larger wild animals, their skeletal remains should be commonly seen.
But the strangest thing about this forest was that Ren Xiaosu had yet to come across any skeletal remains even once, other than the one belonging to the rat he had thrown away.
At this moment, Ren Xiaosu wanted to turn back to confirm if the rat skeleton had disappeared as well. After all, it hadn't been thrown away for too long, and some bones still remained when he had gone to check on it in the morning. But by now, the bones might have disappeared.
It was the same for Xu Xia's body and the fish scraps and bones.
There was something creepy about this huge forest. A soldier asked, "It seems like some people have been here within the past year, and it was even quite a large group too. But almost no one from Stronghold 113 have come out here to the Jing Mountains during this past year."
"It might've been the people from Stronghold 112 who were traveling to our stronghold, but something unexpected happened to them." Xu Xianchu searched his memory. "But since we're the lowest ranking troops in the private army, we can't possibly know who's been here."
Xu Xianchu was right about that. They were the most insignificant people within the private army, so why would the higher-ups tell them all the information they knew?
Someone said, "Could it be that we were sent here because something happened to the team that came out here? And when the higher-ups in the stronghold found out about it, they sent us in to investigate? If that team had carried a satellite phone, they should've been able to transmit information back to the stronghold, right?"
This was the first time that Ren Xiaosu heard of the term "satellite phone." It had not even been mentioned before by Mr. Zhang at school.
He had wondered about this several times as well and believed that there should be some form of communication between the various strongholds. And it seemed that their communications were made through this satellite phone they were talking about?
Ren Xiaosu asked Yang Xiaojin in a whisper, "What's a satellite phone? I've heard from Mr. Zhang that there's something called a telephone in the stronghold, but what's a satellite phone?"
Yang Xiaojin looked at him and said, "Mankind has taken control of several satellites from before The Cataclysm, so we can maintain communication between the various strongholds."
Someone said indignantly, "If the higher-ups knew they'd gone missing, it's obvious they intend to send us to our deaths by sending us out here. Were they thinking of using human lives to confirm whether the news was true? If we die out here as well, it would mean that this place is really dangerous. It's no wonder that we weren't even given any satellite phones this time. It seems like they're trying to minimize their losses, right? Could our lives be worth less than a satellite phone?"
Xu Xianchu glanced at him and said, "Don't go making wild guesses when you have so little information. Also, your speculation isn't logical either."
In reality, the soldier was too frightened at the moment and could not speak sensibly. As such, Xu Xianchu did not agree with his assumptions. However, Ren Xiaosu took a closer look at the two lines of words and said, "What was used to etch these words in the wall? I think it might've been something like a bayonet. It's not possible to carve such deep marks into the rock surface using everyday items that normal people carry around."
Xu Xianchu nodded. "It should be the soldiers from Stronghold 112." He turned to everyone and said, "Sleep tight tonight. If anyone wants to head out of the hollow at night to relieve yourself, make sure to go together in groups of three."
This arrangement was made to prevent inexplicable disappearances from happening again. Even if they got into danger, it was unlikely that three people could not scream for help.
Xu Xianchu continued, "And tonight, everyone has to take turns to keep watch. How about this? I'll take the first shift before the others take over. The ladies don't need to keep watch."
Ren Xiaosu accepted the arrangement but thought there wasn't really any point in keeping a night watch. Not only did they have to guard against external dangers, they also needed to guard against internal dangers from the team.
After all, Yang Xiaojin and he had just seized a gun from a soldier, so it was quite likely that the soldier would try to sneak attack him in the middle of the night.
But at this moment, Yang Xiaojin said to Ren Xiaosu, "You keep watch for the first half of the night while I'll take over for the second half."
"OK." Ren Xiaosu nodded. Their temporary alliance had another basic foundation: They did not have any reason to harm the other.
"I'm going outside for a while," Yang Xiaojin said.
Ren Xiaosu thought, 'Aren't you afraid that something will happen to you?' He asked her, "Do you need me to go with you?"
Yang Xiaojin paused for a while before saying in a low voice, "There's no need."
Ren Xiaosu was a little puzzled. Isn't this girl a little too brave? Just what kind of skill is she hiding?
Beside them, Luo Xinyu stood up and said, "Let me accompany you." She then turned to Ren Xiaosu and gave him a look. "You're really ignorant."
Ren Xiaosu felt his face burning with embarrassment. He just realized what was going on!
The two girls braved the rain and went outside. Xu Xianchu saw them but did not say anything.
A soldier whispered mockingly, "It would be such a pity if those two girls went missing."
But less than five minutes later, Yang Xiaojin and Luo Xinyu returned to the hollow as though nothing had happened.
Had something changed? Could it be that the team was not targeted by the "strange shadows" in the forest?
When two soldiers saw that they had come back, they stood up and said, "We'll also go outside to relieve ourselves. Can't hold it in any longer."
The two men had actually let the two girls go ahead to scout out the route before they dared to head outside themselves. Furthermore, the both of them nearly even pissed their pants out of fear. They really couldn't hold it in any longer.
In fact, they had planned to relieve themselves in the hollow. But didn't Yang Xiaojin and Luo Xinyu come back just fine? So they had to muster up their courage and head outside.
Xu Xianchu nodded and said, "Come back quickly. Don't waste time smoking out there."
"Don't worry 'bout it." The two soldiers put on their clothes and went out.
Ren Xiaosu was eating the chocolate and watching Yang Xiaojin, who was drying herself in the hollow. Curious, he asked, "Didn't anything happen to you two out there?"
"No," Yang Xiaojin replied simply.
Someone in the hollow started a fire. After everyone threw the pine cones into the fire, they started squeezing the liquid substance from the pine needles and licked it to quench their thirst.
The pine cones crackled as they roasted in the fire. Everyone was warmed by it. They felt like they were getting brought back to life.
Right then, Xu Xianchu looked out of the hollow. "Those two why haven't they returned?!"
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