There were whispers, moans and hideous stares sometimes.
Clearly the other passengers were not the good guys, their faces were either unsmiling or down-right harsh; their eyes were all dreadfully fierce. It was as if the lair of the tigers was intruded.
Ye Chong and his folks reacted towards the hostility fearlessly however. There was supposed to be a fight as no bad guy liked to be picked on and Ye Chong’s attitude was enraging enough. Fortunately, the three musketeers did not appear angelic either. Ye Chong expressed his indifference and his all-alarmed stance exerted a certain level of caution to the people around; Old Pang did not have a threatening appearance, but age had sculptured his face, rugged and tough; Ka Sang stood still like a tower of iron, his body of steel drove people away, especially when he was smiling too, exposing that sharp teeth of his.
They picked a corner of the area and settled down quietly.
"Psst," Old Pang whispered. "Never expected to have this many gangsters, act with extra care, okay?"
Ka Sang nodded his head quickly while Ye Chong agreed after taking a glance around.
The other passengers were smart enough to realize it would not be good to pick on anybody in the cabin. They were calm but not serene, as the atmosphere of the entire spaceship was so tensed that it felt like time had frozen.
Old Pang would take a glimpse at the surrounding occasionally in heed. "Oh?" Ye Chong’s expression remained as untroubled as ever, which was impressive to Old Pang. In comparison to… Ka Sang behaved like the big boy of the team as he sat on the floor and yawned in boredom. A moment later while Old Pang turned to his pal, Ka Sang was dead asleep with his head titled and the corners of his mouth was gapped as streams of saliva dripped onto the deck.
The place was silent. Nothing had happened but no one seemed to be daring enough to raise their voices to speak jollily like how most rocky men were expected to be.
"Attention, passenger, we would be arriving soon at Haleyson. Please make sure you did not leave any of your belongings or your friends. Have a nice day," the voice was flat in the announcement.
We are finally here…
This was probably what everyone was having in mind.
The passengers got off the spaceship naturally in queue. No one was talking. Ye Chong relaxingly walked towards the gate while Old Pang dragged the drowsy boy Ka Sang behind. Sleepy-head Ka Sang was like a sack of potato, being hauled against his will to sleep as his body hit the edges on the deck. "Ow…"
As soon as they exited the gate, the air felt much fresher. They felt charged but the full-metal flight area was glaring to the eyes as their eyes squinted in fatigue.
The area outside the port was beyond their expectation. It was lush green, the street was glowing like emeralds as the tall trees by the sides of the street emanated a scent of nature, which was something long lost in most of the planets inhabited with human beings since metals had replaced every aspect of their daily lives.
A patrol came welcoming them. Unlike that patrol on Red Giant which had an attitude, the patrol on Haleyson smiled sweetly, though within that crossed eyes of his Ye Chong could see that hint of bloodthirstiness.
"Hello passengers! Welcome to Haleyson! This is the Hoth zone, where all of you would be residing! I believe you had heard enough stories regarding this place, so I would be saving those. But I would like to highlight one thing - please do not misbehave in front of the Mentalist, for the sake of your own safety! Also, your accommodation had been arranged. Well, certainly, if you happened to be dissatisfied with our services, you could always leave. But! Starting from today onwards, you could only leave after spending the next 90 days here. Then you can apply to reside at the Mentalist Sanctuary. Moreover, all of your contribution and kindest effort would be recorded on your identity card. Kindly be informed that there would not be any form of replacement if the card was lost. And we, the administration, only identify you, the residences and your contribution with the card, not the person him or herself. Please take very good care of it!" The patrol’s very last line was sort of oddly spoken. It felt like there was something amiss.
Ye Chong and Old Pang exchanged glances as they heard the "keywords". What the patrol probably meant was… if one had ample strength, one could simply snatch the cards away and gain the whole credits from people. They were not the only smart guys. Right after the patrol ended his announcement, the crowd started hustling. The men looked eager to try something naughty.
How could one behave when such announcement has been made? Is this Hunger Game?
The patrol did not talk further, instead he led the crowd to their residence. As expected from a bunch of stern-looking dudes, walking in a gang was eye-catching to the public. The pedestrians at the street could not help but to take a peek sometimes. The residence was less than 100 meters away yet Ye Chong had already felt his body violated by the countless sights of the people.
It was uncomfortable to be watched like animals in the zoo, or like the hunchback of Notre Dame.
They made it to the destination and they sighed in relief together. They were startled by how synchronized they acted but soon the shock became a mere laughter. As they grew fond on each other, the atmosphere became much relaxed.
"This is a temporary accommodation for all of you. It is free so you could leave on a whim, though I am certain that many of you would do so in the end. The currency inside the zone does not share with the outside world. If you do not want to have organic fluid for your meals, please put your thinking caps on and find a living outside," he spoke slowly as he kept his signature smile.
He left after the explanation.
Ye Chong took a look at the building. It felt antique with the red bricks around, which was quite refreshing to Ye Chong who had gotten used looking at the metallic constructions back in the other planets he stayed. The most comforting was none other than the trees around. Mother nature was healing to his spirit.
They picked a room and decided to stay together. Of course, in a dangerous planet like this, any sane man would make the choice of staying with his companions. Ye Chong was convinced that he could be well off on his own but with additional partners, his safety was more guaranteed. Mu also showed approval towards the decision too.
"Time is up, Ye. Shang demanded an entry now. As we have promised to each other, he would be staying much longer this time. Take care and good luck with him, Ye." Did Mu just humor Ye Chong?
"Shang is coming?" This was bad… Ye Chong was getting a headache. Hell knows what this artificial intelligence could do.
"Ye!!!!!" He did not hear the calm response from Mu. As Shang squeezed into the interface, his tone felt like he had been put under hardship, "Do you really hate me this much? You should at least show appreciation for my enlightenment on the best part of your life! I was the one who let you experience the very first excitement of being a man! Tsk, tsk, tsk! That should be an unforgettable gourmet experience to you. Didn't you like it? That kick hit hard yo! Ye is your part fine afterwards? By the way, both of you were such a perfect fit, like the jigsaw puzzles, a rare fit, ohhh, magnefique!"
Oh the eyes of Ye Chong, rolling into the abyss of his head. His heart was urging him to pass out right away. Old Pang was a little shocked when he saw Ye Chong putting off such a humanized expression. What kind of a cold man would do an eye-roll out of sudden?
Meanwhile, Ka Sang was getting a heart attack seeing the design of the room. The style was classy, gorgeously classy. There was a wooden seat in the room. Ka Sang was tired but he dared not lay his butt on the chair, as he was well aware of how expensive that full-wooden chair could be in the outside world. Thought so, he landed his backside all onto the ground. "What a waste it would be if I broke the chair by sitting on it for too long…," thought the big boy of the group.
In the middle of the room, there was an organic fluid maker. The fluid might tasted all bland and disgusting like excretion but it did perform decently in supplying energy which gave the basic guarantee to one’s survival even without a proper income.
Old Pang made a bowl and passed to Ka Sang; Ka Sang took a look and spat out his tongue as he passed to Ye Chong. Ye Chong looked at the bowl wondering what was in the bowl.
They were poor as dirt. Being penniless they had no other choice but to have fluid for meals at the moment. While they were troubled figuring a way to swallow this bowl of mess, someone knocked on the door.
They were alarmed and immediately sprung up from the ground. They looked at each other. Ye Chong sneaked into the shadow of the corner of the room, while Ka Sang stood like a mountain behind Old Pang. Old Pang tidied up himself as he headed to the door.
Of course Old Pang was old for a reason. He was all experienced in this kind of interaction between gangsters. So Ye Chong genuinely handed the role to Old Pang.
The door was opened and closed in seconds. He turned back to his friends, looked all surprised with pile of stuffs in his hand.
Ye Chong exited from the shadow.
Old Pang laid the piles of pamphlets on the table. Those were paper pamphlets! It was the first time Ye Chong saw pamphlets made out of paper. With curiosity he picked one up and observed carefully. No wonder it was replaced by electronic chips in the end! This floppy thin piece of rough layer could barely contain data!
"Do you want to bid a permanent farewell to your daily fluid meals? Do you want to leave the ugly free rooms once and never return? Would you love the money constantly appearing in your pocket somehow? Please dial xxx-xxxx-xxxx"
"Life is priceless! So are our fees, but as it’s priceless, it is free! The association promises to protect anyone who joined today! Only today!"
"Become the storm! Become the center of the city! Build your career and raise once and more! The turning point of your life is right here! And right now! Join us and let’s set our souls blazing!"
The heck are these lines?
They looked at each other, confused and speechless. "Jajajajajaja!" Shang laughed madly in Ye Chong’s mind. "I like this! Ye, why don’t we just step into one of these institutes? This is more entertaining than that Dorky pixelated game parody I found on the virtual web! My life is completed! I am no longer bored! I love this place!"
Ye Chong ignored as he was not in the mood to entertain a mech on drugs. Instead, he put up a discussion with Old Pang.
"Any idea?" asked Ye Chong.
"Just… let them go." His face was all awkward… whether he was laughing or crying, it was indistinguishable, "These should be some kiddos' trick for cheap labor. We ain’t doing this. You've got to hook the bigger fish. Just wait." Old Pang had been in the society for long, he could tell if it was the real deal or a mere trick by the advertising department and his prediction was right!
A moment later, someone actually knocked the door again.
This time, it was a different guy. The leading person at the door did not look ordinary. He was steady and cool. His words sounded confident and he was skillful in negotiations.
Ye Chong stayed quiet the whole time. Let the big guy do the talking, he thought.
Old Pang was also a professional in this. He acted ambiguously throughout the conversation. His desire was hidden, only to keep a back-way out if the conversation went wrong. Most importantly, he respected Ye Chong’s opinion as he did not dare to even nod once since he could not see Ye Chong at the back. Briefly he responded the man.
Why would an old man respect a mere boy like Ye Chong?
In Old Pang’s eyes, this cold boy was unidentifiable. His experience told him the lurking danger of the extreme in Ye Chong. So he would not recklessly make any kind of decision without Ye Chong’s approval, especially when they were in a new foreign world and everything felt like a gamble of life. He was still sane to not commit suicide.
The best stance is always being the observer!
Eventually the man left their residence.
They decided to scout the place first.
They walked in the street. To face a foreign surrounding, no doubt the first thing to do is always to identify and familiarize with it! No one showed disagreement on the decision!
Ye Chong was leading the group while Old Pang was on the left with Ka Sang the great wall on the right.
A group of buffed men in shirts of the same color came towards them in chuckles.