Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Steve and Li Du went to the tundra belt together. They drove four cars, and two cars were left to guard the camp. The rest went to deal with the old rangers.
It was a bumpy ride, and after almost a day on the road, they approached the tundra belt.
Li Du looked out, relieved to see the vast tundra not far away, and said, “I can finally see something other than grey and white.”
The car in front stopped. Steve smiled and pointed east, up over his head. “There is some blue there too.”
Li Du looked up, and it was true that the sky over the northern islands was blue, so blue that it was refreshing to see.
This time, the rangers did not show up in their cars. The previous time, it might have been because helicopter alarmed them.
Nevertheless, the rangers were doing their job. Li Du’s party had been on the spot for less than an hour when a pickup truck rumbled up and drove up to them. Spotting their SUV, the driver of the pickup truck stopped in front of them.
Two old Russians got out of the car. They were big men, one with a wild mane of grey hair, the other with a ponytail hanging down his back. Their skin was as rough as tree bark and full of wrinkles, but their eyes were clear and sharp like the eyes of an eagle.
One of the bodyguards greeted them in Russian, and the three chatted together.
Soon, the two old men looked at the crowd with a gloomy face. Li Du had a bad feeling and his heart was beating fast. However, the two old men went up and shook hands with them.
“They welcome you. The one with the ponytail is named Kirilenko and the other is Arash. They recognized Mr. Tussenberg.”
Steve warmly shook hands with both men, and the two old Russians poked their heads into the car as if expecting something.
Seeing this, Steve opened the trunk of the car, revealing the food, oil, liquor, and other things. The two men’s eyes brightened at once and they cheered.
Li Du took two bottles of vodka and handed them to the men. When they received the bottles, they pulled the lids right off, tilted their heads backwards and drank straight out of the bottle. In a moment, half the bottle was gone.
Li Du couldn’t help but be stunned. These people are good at drinking.
Steve noticed his expression and said, “I still think you are a better drinker than they are.”
“I’m a good drinker, but I don’t favor drinking. I don’t like drinking. We are different that way,” said Li Du.
The Russian bodyguard took a bottle of vodka as well, and the three of them crouched in the sun and drank. Arash took out an oily meal box with dried meat inside. This was their appetizer.
The conversation obviously revolved around Steve and Li Du, but as the men were talking in Russian, Li Du could not understand. Big Ivan who was next to him roughly translated for him.
The bodyguard then pointed to Li Du and said something about the red devil’s M i-171 helicopter.
Upon hearing this, Kirilenko immediately stood up with an angry face.
Big Ivan said, “Our guess was right. The last time was a misunderstanding. They came for the helicopter.”
The two old men shouted excitedly, and the bodyguard nodded and shook his head vigorously, trying to interrupt them and explain.
He told them about Li Du and all about how they got the helicopter.
The two old men looked at them suspiciously, and the bodyguard explained and flashed his gun. Big Ivan said the bodyguard told the old men that if they were enemies, he would not come up to give explanations, but would fight straight away.
The old men silently nodded, clutched their bottles, and motioned for them to follow.
The bodyguard came back and said, “They believe us, but they don’t think they can explain it all to their companions. They want us to meet their fellows.”
“Then let’s go,” Steve jumped in the car.
Li Du was cautious and said, “What if they take us into an ambush?”
Big Ivan said, “Don’t show them you are wary. If they are friends, they might take offense, and if they are enemies, you had better not let them know what you are thinking.”
Li Du laughed. “Can they read my mind?”
With that, he didn’t ask any more questions, and the five cars rolled unsteadily toward the rangers’ camp.
Their camp was made up of thick-walled wooden huts scattered here and there, six in all, and a high tower on which a man stood watch.
The camp was surrounded by a high wooden fence with sharp stakes and guns interspersed at regular intervals. In general, the camp looked more like a small military base than a ranger’s retreat.
Li Du asked Brother Wolf in a low voice, “If there is a fight, could we defeat them with the weapons we have?”
“Yes. With grenades, we can take this camp in five minutes,” Brother Wolf said confidently.
Li Du said, “It wouldn’t be that easy, would it? After all, these guys are veterans.”
“They are veterans, but not elite soldiers,” Brother Wolf said. “And besides, they are out of practice. Of course, it would be very difficult to break into this camp if you only had a shotgun.”
When their car stopped, several more old men came out.
Li Du scanned the crowd and saw the men who had smashed into their helicopter.
The old men clearly remembered the heavy SUVs, and when they saw Steve, they came up to shake hands. They did not offer an apology, but they were friendly.
Some of the men could speak English. An old man with a plaited beard said with a thick accent, “Hello, American friends. What can I do for you?”
Finally finding someone who spoke English, Steve went up and explained why they were there.
The old man with the plaited beard listened to his tale and said, “The red MI -171 is your friend’s helicopter?”
Steve explained, “No, no, he was our enemy. We have heard that he is your enemy too, and we fear that there may have been some misunderstanding between us.”
The bearded old man frowned at them and said, “Are you the enemies of those guys? They flew over here before and we chased them away.”
Li Du interrupted, “It was us you chased away. We were confused and didn’t know what we did to offend you. So, we could only retreat.”
The old man with the plaited beard looked at him darkly and said, “How do you prove it? Those bastards are nasty. We can’t risk trusting you.”
Steve said, “How about this? We don’t ask for your trust, but we don’t interfere with each other. We don’t disturb each other. We won’t go into the tundra, and you don’t attack when you see us.”
The old man with the plaited beard pondered this. He looked at Brother Wolf and the others and glanced at their weapon, then said, “It’s a deal.”
After the explanation, Li Du and the others prepared to leave. Before turning away, he unexpectedly said, “May I ask a question?”