Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
There was a fleet of eight cars, each of which could carry eight people. However, they brought along a lot of luggage and so each car could only sit four to six people.
The engines of the eight vehicles roared, and with the momentum of Godzilla on the road, they rushed north along the highway.
One thousand kilometers later, the road conditions became vastly different.
The infrastructure in the Siberian region was very primitive. The city and its surrounding area had pretty decent infrastructure, and the roads were well-maintained. As they penetrated the more deserted area, the road seemed to disappear very soon.
In that vast region, there were no roads connecting the cities and towns. From that, it could be deduced that Russia’s finances were in an embarrassing state. Compared with the United States and China, the regional development was far from decent.
Had they been driving a regular car, they would have probably been hopelessly stuck after leaving the highway. However, in their current vehicles, even without roads in the taiga, the ride was still a smooth one.
On that day, the road did not disappear right after they exited the city. It was only after five hours on the road, when they were far from the city, that they really entered the wild Siberia. That was when they faced the situation of having no proper road to travel on.
Of course, if they went directly to the Evenkiysky Autonomous District, it would not be completely road-less. Li Du and his group had wanted to go through the wilderness area to try their luck at bumping into some ivory hunters to ask them about news of the Black Snake.
A satellite positioning system had been installed in the car. After switching it on, road directions appeared. They continued their journey down the deserted path.
However, they were in bad luck. Although the sun had been shining brightly in the morning, the sky suddenly turned gloomy in the afternoon.
Li Du asked, “Will it snow?”
Hudi, who was in the same car, wore a serious expression. After staring out of the car window for a few minutes, he said, “No, it looks like the wind will be strong, but there won’t be snow.”
Li Du heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Thank God. The road conditions are poor enough even without rain or snow.”
At that point, they were already very far away from the nearest city. The car had entered a flat taiga area of small gravel terrain and muddy slush. The car had to pull through the road conditions.
Peering out of the window, Li Du did not see many trees nearby. Instead, he only saw some fluffy balls of various sizes rolling around on the ground.
Prior to the trip, he had done his research and now knew what the fluffy balls were.
Those were bunches of tumbleweed, also known as the Prickly Russian Thistle. It was an annual herbaceous plant with a height ranging from 10 to 100 cm, defined as a semi-shrub or shrub.
As the name suggested, tumbleweed could be lifted by the wind. The plants were shaped like balls, large grass balls with dry, fine foliage.
Most people referred to the plant as a “nomad”. It was more common in the Siberian wilderness. When the drought came, the plants would detach their roots from the soil, roll into a coil and be carried by the wind until they arrived somewhere with abundant water, There, they would re-root to survive.
It was a plant with a strong will to live. As long as the environment was not too extreme, it would usually survive. As the wind brought the plants to new areas, they would likely find a place suitable for them to grow new roots and germinate.
Li Du only glanced briefly at the tumbleweed. Such plants were common in the wilderness and were nothing special.
However, he learned of the power of those plants not long after.
The car carried on for around another hour in the gloomy weather when the wind started to grow stronger.
The first to be affected were the tumbleweed balls. They flew in all directions with the wind and from time to time would smash against the car.
Of course, as they were light, they did not cause any harm to the car. However, they did impair their vision from inside the vehicle. Besides, the tumbleweed was curved and had many rough bristles on the outer surface, hence the balls would stick to each other once they came together.
Just like that, when the wind grew stronger, they would be blown together and clump into one. Then its volume would be enlarged, and the grass ball of less than one meter in diameter would turn into a huge monster of five, six, or even ten meters!
Seeing that strange phenomenon, Li Du took a deep breath and said, “D*mn, why are there so many of these things?”
Hudi became anxious and said, “Bad luck. We have entered into a region where there is plenty of tumbleweeds. Hurry up and tell everyone to stop the cars and prepare to hide from the wind…”
The wind had already gotten much stronger, not only flinging the tumbleweed around also moving pebbles and clumps of earth.
While the tumbleweed was gentle and light, it was of no harm. However, it was entirely different with the pebbles and earth clods!
‘Pitter-patter, pitter-patter!’ The gravel and icy mud hit against the windows like a drum, while clumps of tumbleweed rolled towards the car. Old Driver did not dare to steer the wheel. The ground was too slippery, the wind was fierce. Turning the car could cause it to flip.
There was nothing they could do but drive on and let the clumps of tumbleweed bump head-on against the car. Otherwise, they risked losing their way.
As a result, no one in the car could see anything anymore. Li Du immediately spoke into the walkie-talkie, “We have met with trouble, folks. How is it going with you guys?”
Steve’s voice sounded, “The situation is not ideal… buzz-buzz… our car is stuck in a mud hole…buzz…buzz…”
The line went dead.
In the car behind, Brother Wolf said, “Boss, stop the car, we will catch up… buzz…buzz. Can hear… buzz.. we are at… buzz…”
“F*ck!” Li Du cursed.
Driver said, “We can’t stop the car! Brother Wolf, do not stop the car! Otherwise, the wind will blow up the muddy water and flood the exhaust pipe. The car will not start again!”
The walkie-talkie became silent. Li Du looked at the signal and noticed that it was gone.
Hudi gritted his teeth and said, “We can’t count on the others anymore. We have to resolve this ourselves. Continue to drive forward, drive slow and I will study the terrain from the back rear window.”
The walkie-talkie rang out again. It was Hawking. “There’s a temporary campsite around here. Try to find it, everyone. Let’s split up and search for it. We can hide from the wind there. Don’t be afraid, such wind is very common in Siberia in the spring. It’s no biggie.”
Li Du’s car was in the direst situation. The car was head-on with the clumps of tumbleweed. They were driving without the ability to see anything in front of them.
He asked Hudi, “Do you know this temporary campsite?”
Hudi replied, “I think I have seen it. Drive slowly and let’s look out for it.”
Driver said coldly, “Even if I wanted to drive fast, I can’t, buddy.”
The car continued slowly and the wind blew with a strength that Li Du had never witnessed before. Even the tornado he experienced in Mexico was nothing compared to this.
The wind blew stronger and stronger and the tumbleweed on the car were all blown away. The people in the car relaxed, but outside, the sky started to darken rapidly. A dust storm was coming!
Spring was a very dry season in Siberia. The earth was coated with broken pebbles and frozen mud. Beneath lay the dry earth.
When the pebbles and mud bits were blown off, the strong wind would blow up the dry earth and create a dust storm.
“D*mn it!” Li Du said helplessly.
Ah Ow and the rest peered out from the window. The weather had frightened them and their tails were all resting in between their legs. All of them were paying attention to Li Du, however, and following orders.
In the dark dust storm, Hudi continued to try his best to evaluate the surroundings. Finally, his face broke into a smile as he pointed to the front and said, “Go in the ten o’clock direction, there’s a temporary campsite!”