Chapter 494 A new world
when luo lan and the others departed, the fleet of off-road vehicles left a cloud of dust in their wake as they drove all the way eastwards. their destination this time was the central plains.
on the way, luo lan did not even dare to open the windows. he was worried he would end up eating sand if a gust of wind blew in. “only those people from fortress 178 treat this godforsaken place as treasure and guard it so wholeheartedly. we’ll be arriving at the fascinating world in the central plains soon. i’m getting a little excited just thinking about it.”
zhou qi was sitting next to him, but he had been silent for some time, apparently thinking about something. he suddenly said, “i can understand you all want to open up the railroads, but everything is already safe and peaceful in the southwest, so why are you still constantly acting like there’s danger at every corner?”
zhou qi used to be the secretary for the qing consortium board. so even if he looked slovenly right now, he was not stupid.
judging by qing zhen’s move to send that girl to the northwest, the qing consortium was already determined to form an alliance with fortress 178. “and how did you guys manage to persuade fortress 178 to agree to let us build the railroad? y’know, it’ll take less than a day to get from stronghold 111 to fortress 178 if the railroad gets completed.”
in this way, if the qing consortium launched a first strike in the future, the railroad would be a lifeline that could transport soldiers and military supplies continuously as long as a stable forward operating base was established. it would probably be much faster to transport their soldiers there than to deploy their mechanized infantry!
“wait,” zhou qi said to himself, “could it be that you have a common enemy? but where’s this enemy? it’s like you’re all facing a formidable foe.”
“to say that it’s a formidable foe would be an exaggeration.” luo lan chuckled and said, “at worst, you can say that we’re preparing for a rainy day! we’ve also paid a heavy price for this outcome. first, if fortress 178 encounters external enemies again someday, our qing consortium’s troops will have to rush to the battlefield as support.”
“what?” zhou qi was stunned. “did zhang jinglin agree to let you station our troops next to him?”
“of course not.” luo lan shook his head. “from today onwards, the qing consortium will have to open up a corridor in the southwest through the mountain range in the west. that corridor will cut through the hinterlands of the plateau. if someone attacks fortress 178, we’ll have to support and outflank them from behind.”
“it won’t be easy to open up a corridor in the mountain range.” zhou qi sighed.
“it wasn’t easy to get fortress 178 to agree to us connecting railroads either. all i can say is that both sides made their concessions and put in a lot of hard work to reach a deal,” luo lan said calmly.
“alright, even if zhang jinglin believes you’ll support them when the time comes, who’s the qing consortium’s enemy?” zhou qi asked.
“the wang consortium in the central plains.” luo lan said with a smile, “can you imagine that? actually, i also didn’t expect qing zhen to care so much about that wang consortium initially.”
“that’s interesting.” zhou qi’s interest was piqued. “i heard that wang shengzhi is wheelchair-bound and always treats others with kindness. why would you be afraid of a person like him?”
“we aren’t afraid of anyone.” luo lan looked at the loess outside the window. “but not all is as peaceful in the qing consortium as you think. the qing consortium has become the most powerful organization on the surface in the entire alliance of strongholds, with more than 40 strongholds under its control. as our consortium grows more powerful, a lot of people will start paying more attention to the southwest.”
“then what does it have anything to do with the wang consortium?” zhou qi asked this question as he understood very little about the wang consortium.
“wang shengzhi spent ten years uniting the wang consortium and opened the most important resource route in the northwest. he also worked hard to implement a mandatory military service during this time. it might not look like anything at first, and the wang consortium does not have a lot of active troops at the moment, but things will change as time passes. once a war breaks out, almost all of the wang consortium’s adult males under the age of 35 can immediately bear arms and become soldiers,” luo lan calmly explained.
“they only implemented military service.” zhou qi said in confusion, “you can’t solely use that to accuse them of being ever ready to wage war against others, can you?”
“it’s not only that. qing zhen also said the wang consortium’s been purchasing silk at high prices since years ago. the zhou consortium’s territory has some of the most suitable places for silkworm breeding, so many of their refugees fled into the mountains to breed silkworms while the wang consortium quietly purchased their silk at high prices. they even provided the refugees with supplies too. guess what? two years ago, the zhou consortium discovered they had fewer and fewer refugees, and many of their factories had shortages of manpower. they nearly did not have enough food to feed their people!” luo lan chuckled and said, “of course, the wang consortium did many other things too.”
“i’d like to know how qing zhen views the wang consortium.” zhou qi frowned.
luo lan said calmly, “he said the wang consortium has the ambition of unifying the alliance of strongholds.”
“so zhang jinglin agreed to your proposal because he and qing zhen have the same thoughts, and both parties will work together secretly to fend off any future danger?” zhou qi sighed. “can’t we all just lead a peaceful life? isn’t it quite good to just make some money, chase some skirts, and enjoy a life of luxury? why’s there always someone who wants to conquer everything in the world?”
luo lan said with a smile, “you and i have witnessed a great deal of the greed of humans, but wang shengzhi is doing this not for greed… and that’s the scariest thing about him. also, the qing consortium still has some old rivals from years ago. for example, the leader of the saboteurs never let go of her prejudice against us. and the pyro company has been unhappy with us for a long time too….”
“if you put it that way, it feels to me that everyone in the world is an enemy…” zhou qi said in a speechless manner. “i’m more curious if the qing consortium really has a nuclear base.”
luo lan chuckled and said, “guess.”
zhou qi curled his lips. “stop acting so mysteriously.”
luo lan lamented, “if only we could’ve gotten ren xiaosu onto our side. that would’ve been great. with him stationed at stronghold 111, my brother wouldn’t have to sleep in the barracks every day.”
“who are you looking down on?” zhou qi said unhappily, “didn’t i used to stand guard at his side? what? you don’t believe i can protect him? how’s ren xiaosu better than me?”
“are you brave enough to attack stronghold 146 all by yourself?” luo lan asked.
zhou qi paused for a moment. “never mind! but who’ll protect qing zhen now that i’m going to the central plains?”
“there’s a guy called zheng yuandong who’s returned.” luo lan said with a smile, “he’s even more powerful than i imagined.”
“zheng yuandong?” that name sounds quite familiar.”
“you should be more familiar with his codename, eternal night. he’s now a supernatural being.”
the convoy’s journey to the central plains did not take long at all. luo lan and zhou qi’s mission to head to the central plains seemed to have suddenly become more important. they were looking to use gold to obtain cheap friendship amid the chaos in the central plains. then they would try their best to delay the thing they worried most about for as long as possible until the day it arrived.
this way, qing zhen would have more time to consolidate the resources in the southwest.
of course, it would be even better if they could nip the threat in the bud.
“by the way, what’s up with that qinghe group?” zhou qi asked, “aren’t you guys worried about them too?”
“there’s nothing to worry about.”