Chapter 15: The First Billion
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The next morning, after charging the robots with the power sockets at home, Chen Jin sent the team out searching again, along with 88 extra fully charged high-efficiency batteries to increase their battery life.
“Da Li, when you get to the City of Tereese, please keep an eye on the banks there, see if there is any gold or silver in their vaults; the same goes for the valuables in their jewelry stores. Bring some of them back; they could be of use for me,” Chen Jin particularly reminded them.
“Jewelry?” A light green screen started to appear in mid air as two beams shot out from Da Li’s eyes, showing Chen Jin a picture. “Master, did you mean something like these?” It was a picture of a vault full of gold and silver, and jewelry stores with mountains of shiny diamonds.
Chen Jin was almost drooling. Nodding swiftly, he said, “Yes, that is exactly what I need.”
“Yes, master.” Da Li saluted. “We will keep an eye out and search thoroughly.” Then, Da Li and the team scurried away towards the North and were soon out sight.
Chen Jin then went back to his bedroom with great anticipation, waiting anxiously for their return. It was as if he had ants in his pants; he wasn’t even able to play video games or read his comic books – all he could think about was how rich he was going to get overnight. Like five million was just going to fall right into his arms from the sky.
“I wonder how much gold they can find,” he murmured to himself. “If each person owned 10 grams of gold, collecting one ton of gold shouldn’t be a problem in a city that had 100,000 residents. Silver is only worth 50 cents per gram here on Earth, so it’s ok if they don’t find too much of that as they wouldn’t be worth much even if they bring back a ton. As for palladium, platinum, rubies, and jade…these guys are worth a lot of money – I could probably make more than 10 million with just one small bag. It might not be too hard to achieve my 1-billion goal if I take all the valuables in this city that had a population of 100,000, right?”
Chen Jin started pacing back and forth in his bedroom, rubbing his palms together. He even thought about going to Tereese and search for the treasure by himself; however, he quickly dispelled the idea due to the fact that the travel distance would be too long for him to handle. Fortunately, Da Li and the team didn’t keep him waiting for long.
The next day at noon, the robots had returned to the camp. But…
“Where are my tons of gold? Not even hundreds of silver? What about the snakeskin bag filled with rubies and jade? None of the stuff that I asked for is here. How come?” Chen Jin was so frustrated that he didn’t even have the energy to complain. He was not happy with the stuff Da Li brought back – a small gunny bag. The kind of bag that one could fill 10 kilograms of rice in. And it wasn’t even full.
After dumping all that was in the bag out on the sandy ground, Chen Jin saw the following:
A broken mechanical watch – worth a little more than $15.
Eight diamond rings – all of which were not very big.
Five platinum rings.
25 pieces of jewelry with different kinds of materials; there was gold, silver, jade – which weren’t heavy; the best one was the gold bracelet, which weighed a little more than 20 grams.
Chen Jin assumed the most valuable one of all was probably the necklace that was made with 48 spectacular pearls; all of which were perfectly round shaped with a bright, iridescent color – they might be worth more than $2,000.
But the amount was still far from what he originally planned. Chen Jin guessed the total value of what was in front of him – 1 million at most. He couldn’t even achieve the tiny one-billion goal. Having decided to get to the bottom of this, Chen Jin asked, “Da Li, what exactly did you look for in Tereese? Did you not find any local banks? How come these are all you could find?”
“We searched every corner of the city very thoroughly and carefully, including some banks and their vaults, but these were the only profitable ones that we could find.” Da Li explained.
“How is that even possible?” Chen Jin did not believe the robot. “In a city with a population of 100,000 you should be able to find 10 kilograms of gold at least, if not a ton.”
“Master, if you don’t believe me, please take a look at my search history.”
A video clip of the entire searching mission started playing in mid air, as two green beams shot out from Da Li’s eyes. It was from Da Li’s perspective too – he could see every little detail.
Chen Jin watched for a while. Then he told Da Li to fast forward to the vault in a large bank, and paused. The heavy, metal vault was cut in half with a razor gun by the medical robot “Da Bao”. But there was absolutely nothing in there.
Perhaps there wasn’t exactly nothing. Chen Jin saw some wads of useless, floral print paper towels that he considered to be too rough to be used for any purpose. All the hard currencies, such as gold or silver, were gone. The result was the same for the next few banks they found.
All the bracelets, necklaces, rings, and whatnot, also vanished from the glass display cases in jewelry stores on the high street. As for the residential areas, they searched more than 10 houses and still found nothing in their empty safes – not even a roll of paper towels.
Based on the search results, Chen Jin concluded that the residents in this city must have fled with all their valuables after the war broke out, leaving no chance for anyone who wished to steal.
All the stores on the high street – jewelry stores, watch stores, clothing stores, and grocery stores, had signs of being broken in; the City of Tereese was apparently in chaos during the war; criminals must have taken the opportunity and stolen all the expensive products.
They just didn’t do a very good job, leaving a little over 100 mechanical watches, 10 diamond and platinum rings, and more than 20 pieces of jewelry. Da Li and the team were lucky to find the rest so they didn’t have to return to camp empty-handed.
“The value of jewelry remains even if it’s the apocalypse. How could people just toss them away?” Chen Jin said with frustration.
Money is liquid assets; evidently, most of the valuables in the city had gone somewhere else. My tiny one-billion goal will not be easy to achieve for sure. Luckily, the bag that the robots brought back definitely had some value; I can surely sell them and make at least a million, and it will be my “first bucket of gold”. Besides, Da Li and the team only searched a part of the city; there are many other places that have yet to be investigated. I still have hope.
Moreover, Chen Jin found an alternative “in person”. Or rather, “with his own eyes”. Even though he was not in the City of Tereese personally, through Da Li’s search history, he noticed that there were quite a few vehicles on the streets. There were cars, big trucks, buses, various construction vehicles, even some agricultural machinery. There were at least thousands of them; he saw them everywhere in the city.
Without any hesitation, he said to Da Li, “Da Li, after your batteries have been fully charged, find me a vehicle from the city – not the ones that are out of order; find one that can be easily repaired.”
Chen Jin then picked up all the watches, diamond rings, and jewelry that were scattered all over the ground, put them back into the bag, and went back to his bedroom.