Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: @Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du decided to stay on.
Although staying there was a little boring, these days there was no cold snap, so the weather was good.
He did not enjoy the city as much as Hans did, and he did not find life dull in the wild northern islands with Sophie and the little ones.
At times, they would hang out on the moors together. Occasionally, Li Du would drive a mountain bike across the moors. The land here was wide, with a beautiful, pristine environment. He could speed as much as he wanted without bothering anyone.
After a while spent in such a place, Li Du felt that his cardiopulmonary function was strengthened a lot, and the unpolluted environment was clearly good for his health.
By June, the entire northeastern part of the island had been scoured with no results, except for two meteorites Li Du had previously found. The others did not find anything.
Steve decided to go south, while they kept going north until then. The southeast had not been searched.
Upon learning of his decision, Li Du shook his head. “No, the southern region is the tundra belt. Let’s not go there. There is a bunch of old madmen in that area.”
“Old madmen? What are you talking about?” Steve asked in surprise.
Li Du explained about the old men he had met on his arrival, and Steve thought for a moment and said, “Oh, I know who you’re talking about, the old rangers of the island. You must mean them.”
“Are they rangers? Why are they so rude? Scolding us and shooting at us!” Li Du said.
Steve scratched his head. “How did that happen? We came from the tundra belt, and we met some old rangers and they were very friendly.”
Big Ford frowned. “Couldn’t have anything to do with you being Chinese, Li, could it?”
“I don’t think it had anything to do with racism. They were ready to hit the helicopter before I got off it,” said Li Du.
When Li Du thought of the helicopter that was knocked by the truck, he could not help but shake his head. Those old people were too tough.
Big Ford made a bewildered gesture. “But we’ve met them, and they were very friendly. We’ve even traded in some animal skins and charcoal and some groceries…”
Steve interrupted him and looked at Li Du. “Wait. You say they drove their car into your helicopter and clashed with you?”
Steve said, “What if they went specifically for the helicopter?”
Li Du turned his head to look at the large helicopter that stood next to the camp. It was painted red all over and stood out in the wilderness.
Red was the protective and lucky color of the Blodwen family, from which their “red devil” nickname originated.
Steve added, “If you think about the incident when Blodwen attacked us, you can surmise that perhaps the locals knew what was going on here. Maybe the Blodwens had been here before and had a conflict with the rangers.”
Big Ford nodded. “It’s possible. That would explain why they prefer not to come much to the east of the island.”
Li Du did not think about it before, but now he felt that it was possible.
“We’d better search the southeastern area,” Steve said. “How about this? Let’s drive over and see what’s going on.”
Li Du shrugged. “OK, let’s do that.”
They took the bodyguards and went first. Li Du wanted to take the villagers; after all, the villagers were the island’s indigenous people, and perhaps they could help them form a connection with the rangers.
Steve asked him to forget this idea and said, “It is unlikely. The villagers on the island have a bad relationship with the rangers because they don’t see eye to eye about natural resources.”
Villagers, while not ruthless like downright poachers, depended in a large measure on local natural resources for their livelihood, which often clashed with the environmental preservation principles enforced by government-employed rangers.
Driving down the road, Steve gave Li Du a brief lecture on the local ranger team.
“They are veterans, they have fought in Afghanistan, so they must have the post-war psychological effects, you know? A traumatic stress disorder where people go crazy if they are overstimulated.”
“When they got out of the army and couldn’t live in the city, they came here to Severnaya Zemlya and were hired as rangers and scouts who would help monitor the environment.”
“Later, they stayed here. Although life here was boring, the quiet environment soothed their mental issues, and they gradually adopted this place as their home.”
“That’s why they take the tundra preservation very seriously and do everything they can to protect the local environment because, for them, it’s home!”
Listening to the explanation, Li Du smiled and said, “They told you about this? Good work.”
Steve shrugged. “No, why would they? I found out myself. At first, only eight veterans came here. Gradually, a few with the same problem arrived, until the group grew to thirty men.”
They had extended their search to the northeast corner of the Bolshevik Island, a journey that would take at least two days and span half the island’s territory.
The roads on the island were so bad if they existed at all, and the landscape was so rugged that even heavy SUVs could not move very fast, so they were forced to drive slowly.
Driver chose to stick close to the shore, which was a flatter area due to the waves from the ocean.
The second morning, Li Du felt bored and teased Ah Bai. Driver suddenly said, “Boss, there is a ship out on the sea.”
Li Du turned his head and saw, indeed, that there was a transport ship bobbing up and down on the surface of the water. However, it was a distance away and he could only vaguely see the shape of the boat.
He thought it was a meaningless incident on a boring road, but after the car drove on for another two hours, someone suddenly appeared in front of them.
They waved their arms at the sight of the SUV and some people rode forward on mountain bikes and got in front of their car.
When the motorcade stopped, Steve lowered the window and asked, “Hi, guys, good day. What can I do for you?”
Hearing his words, a big man raised his eyebrows and asked, “Ha, American?”
Steve nodded. “Yes, we’re from America.”
The big man smiled and said, “Great, we meet our compatriots, then. We are also Americans.”
While he was talking, he came up and leaned through the window to give Steve a warm hug. Steve was not used to this kind of enthusiasm. He laughed in an awkward way and said, “Hello, compatriots, what can we do for you?”
His apparent coolness made the man’s facial expression change a little. The man said, “We came here to work, and we were driving motorcycles, but you know how bad the road is. We have problems with our motorcycles, so we would like to use your car.”