The entire stronghold was already fervently discussing the matter of the refugees. Some things might not sound too serious when it first started spreading, but it would get scarier and scarier as it passed on from one person to another.
For example, some people who were worried about the refugees entering the stronghold at the beginning would say, “Will the refugees bring in diseases from the outside or something? After all, there’s a saying that all refugees are contaminated.”
When it reached the next person, it would become: “This is bad! The refugees have brought diseases into the stronghold!”
When it spread to the third person: “Several dozen people have already died from the disease the refugees are carrying!”
As it spread: “The refugees want to kill everyone in the stronghold with their disease!”
Cao Yuqi put some distance between herself and Ren Xiaosu. But as fellow classmates and deskmates, how far could she possibly distance herself?
In the face of Cao Yuqi’s questioning, Ren Xiaosu did not answer or lie. He did not say he was a refugee because he always believed there was nothing wrong with being one in the first place. This wasn’t up to him. Besides, it wasn’t something disgraceful either.
Ren Xiaosu might change into a new set of clothes and try to integrate into this society, but he would not deny who he was. If he did, he would have denied all 17 years of his life thus far.
So at this moment, Cao Yuqi was looking at Ren Xiaosu in silence as she knew she had guessed correctly.
‘He’s a refugee!’ Cao Yuqi was at a loss. Her new deskmate had turned out to be a refugee!
Honestly, Cao Yuqi was even hoping to switch seats. But at this moment, a bent old man walked in. The old man placed his lesson plan on the lectern and said slowly, “The final exams will be here soon, so let’s review trigonometric functions today.”
Ren Xiaosu was startled. ‘What are functions?’
Tang Zhou had asked Ren Xiaosu if he wanted to start with the 12th grade curriculum. At the time, Ren Xiaosu confidently said he had studied well during his time in town. When it came to learning, he said it would absolutely not be a problem for him. But now, Ren Xiaosu realized what Zhang Jinglin had taught him was quite different from what was being taught here in the stronghold.
In reality, Zhang Jinglin could not be faulted for that. Zhang Jinglin himself wasn’t a proper teacher either. Moreover, their class consisted mainly of the younger boys and girls such as Yan Liuyuan and Wang Dalong, so there wasn’t a need to follow a lesson plan meant for higher grades.
When a student got to Ren Xiaosu’s age in town, they would usually stop schooling and start helping out at home. It was only Ren Xiaosu who had an abnormal thirst for more knowledge.
All these reasons led to Ren Xiaosu unable to understand what was being taught in class at this moment!
The entire lesson felt like he was making his way through a fog. Ren Xiaosu had always been extremely attentive when attending classes. He wanted nothing more than to remember everything that was taught in Zhang Jinglin’s lessons.
But it was different this time. He also wanted to take in all of what had been taught for trigonometric functions, but he just didn’t have the ability to do so. He couldn’t make sense of it at all!
When he had come to school to process his admission, the Academic Affairs Office issued him new textbooks. However, these textbooks were all for 12th grade classes. Even if Ren Xiaosu wanted to catch up on his knowledge, he would have to start with the 10th grade curriculum.
During class intermission, Ren Xiaosu’s deskmate hurriedly left her seat. Several students gathered in the corner of the classroom and started chattering. At times, some of the students in the group would let out a gasp, exclaim, or frown.
Ren Xiaosu didn’t even have to wonder to know they were discussing his status as a refugee, and the harm he might bring to them as one.
People in the stronghold did not treat refugees nicely. This was Ren Xiaosu’s feeling after interacting with them. There were even times when he felt living in town was much freer. Of course, with the current threat of the Experimentals and wolf pack, it might not be safe to live in town.
The refugees living in the town outside Stronghold 109 probably did not know the wilderness was filled with many things that could threaten their lives.
Therefore, Ren Xiaosu, Yan Liuyuan, and the others could only bear with it for now. This was because they hadn’t found a safe haven yet to replace the protection the stronghold offered them.
After the class intermission, it felt like every one of the students knew Ren Xiaosu was a refugee. Everyone’s attitude towards him became colder.
Some of the students who had wanted to reach out to get to know Ren Xiaosu were now left with a complex mix of emotions.
More importantly, in order to strengthen their own social class, the consortiums had inculcated into everyone the idea that refugees were of a lower class. They would often intentionally or unintentionally spread the idea that refugees were “contaminated” and used this as a reason to refuse entry to them into the strongholds. This also helped them to avoid getting caught in a moral outrage.
“I would like for the refugees to come into the stronghold too, but they’ve been contaminated. If we allow them to come in, that would be irresponsible of us to everyone else.”
The stronghold residents were used to hearing similar statements.
However, Ren Xiaosu wasn’t really bothered by it. Although he would like to get to know more people at school, he wouldn’t force it if others weren’t willing to make friends with him. After all, he and Yan Liuyuan had solely relied upon each other all these years. It didn’t matter to him what others thought about them.
After school ended on the same day, Ren Xiaosu grabbed his backpack and left the class. It wasn’t like he was anxious to get home. He just didn’t want to lose sight of Yang Xiaojin.
On that night in the Jing Mountains, Ren Xiaosu clearly remembered how terrifying it was when he saw Yang Xiaojin taking a sniper rifle out of thin air. If he allowed Yang Xiaojin to get a step ahead of him in locating a commanding point, he would probably end up dead!
In Ren Xiaosu’s opinion, Yang Xiaojin was very likely looking to silence him.
This was because Ren Xiaosu was very sure that if he told Luo Lan that Yang Xiaojin had been admitted into 13th High School, not only would Yang Xiaojin’s plan fail, something would also happen to the person who helped her with her school enrollment.
Ren Xiaosu believed the Qing Consortium still had some hidden influence within this stronghold. If they knew about Yang Xiaojin’s whereabouts, Qing Zhen and Luo Lan would definitely not miss this chance to exterminate a threat.
When he left the class, he happened to spot Yang Xiaojin coming out of the class next door. A smile appeared on Yang Xiaojin’s face under her cap. She did not make her way out of school but instead went in the opposite direction as she headed to the top floor of the school building.
The rooftop became quiet and secluded after school.
Ren Xiaosu frowned as he was unsure of what Yang Xiaojin was planning.
After school, the students started pouring out of the compound. As it was only 5 PM, many students stayed behind at school to play basketball or soccer.
Ren Xiaosu got a thought when he saw this scene. He wondered how the refugees outside would feel if they knew the people in the stronghold were actively seeking enjoyment in their lives during a time when refugees were struggling to even fill their stomachs.
Therefore, the walls of the strongholds not only stopped the dangers of the wilderness from coming in, but also prevented the refugees from knowing what was going on inside. It didn’t let them realize just how comfortable it really was inside a stronghold.
But Ren Xiaosu thought this seemed a little distorted. It felt like the recent disaster had caused humans to put on an even greater pretense of peace and prosperity.
It was just like how an oppressed and poor person who got rich overnight would likely choose to splurge and squander without limits. This was a kind of psychological perverseness 1 that needed fulfilling.