Seven days later, somewhere in a radiant, glowing forest, a frail-looking man was still trying to find his way out of the seemingly endless woods.
Han Xiao needed food and water desperately. His backpack was bulging but only with equipment.
Seven days ago, he had defeated Silver Blade with relative ease by sacrificing the mecha arm.
Losing it was not that big of a deal though, as Han Xiao still had the blueprints and could always craft another.
Although the forest was not an ideal place for recovery, Han Xiao's high END gave him resistance to wound infection. Still, he did have to withstand the pain of digging out the bullets inside him. The pain from extracting the sniper bullet lodged in his shoulder blade, in particular, had been so excruciating that it had immobilized Han Xiao for almost an hour.
At the very least, he was lucky to have not encountered any wild beasts, although he did catch a few hares. The wild beasts on Planet Aquamarine were extremely ferocious, and some of them were even intelligent. In Galaxy, they occasionally attacked human cities. Some beasts, like the amphibious orca elephant, were so massive that conventional weaponry was completely ineffective against them.
Although Han Xiao knew the geography of Planet Aquamarine well, it wasn't really of much use to him when he did not know where exactly he was. Han Xiao would sleep on top of trees at night, and if the past seven nights had taught him anything, it was that mosquitoes were the most detestable creatures in the world.
Will I ever get out of this forest?
As if in answer to his prayers, a wanderers' encampment soon appeared in Han Xiao's sights.
Suddenly, Han Xiao's expression changed and he jumped backwards abruptly. In the same instant that he had reacted, a huge net sprung up from beneath the sand. It was embedded with shards of metal.
"The bastard dodged!"
A long-haired young man carrying a shotgun walked out from behind a tree. His clothes were ragged and patched with animal skin.
"Stand still!" he shouted.
The young man was most likely one of the residents from the encampment, and Han Xiao, not wishing to create unnecessary trouble, held his hands up above his head.
"I'm just a passerby."
Han Xiao's bulging backpack caught the young man's eye.
"What's in the bag? Take everything out! "
Han Xiao sighed. No wonder the trap was so big; it was precisely meant to catch people. Morals are always blurred in times of trouble. Most wanderers were surviving citizens of the old countries who opted not to join the Six Nations. As life in the wild was harsh, killing and stealing might have been frowned upon, but they were inevitable occurrences.
"Are you deaf? I said, take everything out!" yelled the long-haired young man as he walked forward to hit Han Xiao on the forehead with the butt of his shotgun.
Han Xiao was exasperated. The only contents in his backpack were guns, ammo, and equipment that belonged to the Germinal Organisation. How was he going to explain that?
"Do you not understand me? Want me to screw you up"
The long-haired young man cocked the shotgun threateningly.
Suddenly, Han Xiao threw an elbow into the chest of the unsuspecting young man, sending him flying back in shock. Han Xiao grabbed the shotgun from him out of mid-air.
The young man landed heavily on the ground, and he clutched his chest in terror as he scrambled to crawl away.
Han Xiao cut out some rope from the trap and tied the whimpering young man to a tree.
When he examined the shotgun, he realized that its barrel was outright crooked and shook his head. At the very least, it implied that the young man had never killed before and that he had only been acting.
Nonetheless, the young man was so terrified that when he saw it in Han Xiao's hand, he panicked even more.
"Big brother, please spare me! Forgive me for not recognizing Mt. Tai."
Han Xiao slapped him squarely on the face, reprimanding, "So, you know that you were wrong"
"I was wrong. I was wrong," blurted the young man shamelessly.
The young man thought for a moment before carefully answering, "I should have brought one more gun?"
Han Xiao burst into laughter.
"You're a funny one, eh?"
"Please show me mercy, Mr. Saint. Just let me go as if you're passing wind," sobbed the young man with dripping tears.
"Get lost! I've never passed such a big wind before."
Han Xiao raised the shotgun and struck the young man across his face to knock him out cold. At the end of the day, the young man was most likely a resident of the encampment, and Han Xiao still needed to obtain food and water from them.
"Count yourself lucky."
Half an hour later, Han Xiao finally reached the encampment. His appearance seemed to unsettle the wanderers.
Life in the wild was full of perils, and wanderers were often unwelcoming to outsiders. Their way of life was similar to that of the gypsies, and they were frequently on the go. There were pick-up trucks lined up outside the tent. Most of them were rusty and some didn't even have exteriors.
Han Xiao noticed that there were only a few dozen tents, making this community a relatively small one. Nevertheless, it was a miniature society in its own, and Han Xiao located the camp's merchant: a bearded westerner who conducted his business by his pick-up truck.
"Outsider?" The bearded man raised an eyebrow.
"Do you know the rules?" he asked.
"Barter trading only."
Well, that's just fine , thought Han Xiao, since I don't have a single penny.
"I want a map, three buckets of water, and five kilos of food. Bread or dried meat will do." said Han Xiao as he retrieved a handful of bullets from his bag and put them on the truck.
"I'll pay with this."
The bearded merchant's eyes flashed with greed.
Gunpowder was extremely valuable among wanderers as hunting was a key source of food.
"150 bullets," stated the bearded merchant.
Han Xiao's face darkened.
The items he had asked for were basic necessities. There was no way that they could be worth so much.
Han Xiao's bronze bullets were high-quality bullets that could easily go for $10 apiece, yet the merchant was asking for 150 of them, equivalent to $1,500!
"Up to you," added the merchant nonchalantly as he turned his attention to his fingernails.