Chapter 10: The Ghetto Full of Talent
Translator: xujin-t-t, _Min_ Editor: xujin-e-x, Lis_
“Hehe, Boss, are you satisfied with this one?”
The weather on the wasteland was known for its strangeness. Although it was the midst of a summer day, occasionally the temperature would drop to subzero like it was the end of fall. The thick radiation dust blocked the majority of the UV rays, which means fluctuations in the weather was quite normal. If the cloud-like radiation dust would not drift away, then the temperature would feel even colder.
Especially in the morning, the chillness was even more apparent.
Covered in a trench coat, Jiang Chen stuffed one hand into his pocket while he examined a resume with the other. The fat guy standing by him was already bald and almost old enough to be Jiang Chen’s dad, but he just stood obediently there, waiting for Jiang Chen’s order.
The survival camp was governed by absolute freedom and a capitalistic view; the crystals dictated who had power. Although he didn’t know Jiang Chen’s background, if he offended the customer by any means, his boss would not take this lightly on him.
Also, Jiang Chen was a man of status. He took the recommendation from Sun Jiao to create a fictitious position – which was the general manager of a company called Fishbone Corporation. Other than the leaders of different factions and forces, the two other prestigious positions on the wasteland were arms dealers and food producers.
Both types of products were very lucrative, especially because the majority of the farmlands were no longer feasible for production.
As to why the company was called Fishbone Corporation, well it was convenient since the brand produced most of the canned food that Jiang Chen brought. He even considered, after receiving a sum of cash, he would buy that company out to save the trouble of erasing the production date.
“…Zhang Tianyu, originally the vice president of Walkman Electronic Company, specializes in business administration and electronic product development. The designer of the Asia famous Walkman P7 phone.” Jiang Chen cracked a smile. A vice president, that’s satirical. “Hmm, Mr. Wang Yi, I need people who specialize in computers and can do some labor work at the same time. However, you managed to find me a vice president?”
Although a stellar resume, he didn’t consider the vice president any further. He didn’t need a person who was capable of corporate strategy.
He didn’t know why, but it felt great rejecting a vice president. His face maintained emotionless on the surface.
“I am sorry Sir. If you could please excuse me for a moment.” The labor market manager named Wang Yi profusely apologized, as he ran into the data room to search again.
Jiang Chen looked at the poorly dressed refugees in the ghetto as he let out a long sigh.
The ghetto included some families with young people who could work. Usually, they would work in the factory area in exchange for some cheap nutrient supply and a small tablet of iodine. They would continue to survive with the family in hardships until death.
If they encountered any diseases, their background almost foretold their unfortunate fate.
Jiang Chen gazed at the radioactive dust cloud; the light that struck through cast an unhealthy color.
Immediately, the fat Wang Yi hustled out of the data room and gave a stack of resumes to Jiang Chen. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and smiled at Jiang Chen.
Most of the resumes were dusty. It was evident Wang Yi recently dusted them off. There was an overabundance of highly skilled tech individuals on the wasteland. After all, the production of bullets didn’t require sophisticated technology. Also, nobody would bother purchasing a new computer or phone.
Jiang Chen carefully sifted through the resume as he raised his eyebrows occasionally.
“Boss, are you not satisfied?” Wang Yi asked anxiously, as this affected his commission, which was his only source of income.
“There are a few people that are quite exceptional. However… ” Jiang Chen pointed at the criminal record at the bottom of the resume, “…why are they all criminals?”
Lu Haitao, IT Specialist, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after stealing 15 nutrient supply. He was currently working at the nutrient supply boiler as a laborer.
Li Kaiming, Feixun Technology’s Project Manager, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for robbery, and currently worked in an ammunition factory as a laborer.
Wang Yi’s face was full of anguish as he said with a plea, “boss, there is nothing I can do about it.”
After Wang Yi explained, Jiang Chen eventually understood. Not everyone in the ghetto had freedom. All the people that were traded as a product were people that lost their freedom. Every person that received low-income support were the “property” of Sixth Street. They were similar to slaves in ancient times. Every capable individual was forced to work in a factory, and incapable people acted as population reserves who would serve as soldiers in the frontline. For those refugees that are given freedom, although most are poor, they can survive without any issues. Therefore, they do not need low-income support.
But those were the rules from ten years ago. The Wanghai City now had already established a stable “ecosystem,” and mutants and zombies did not attack the remaining space of the survivors. Hence, Sixth Street was left with no external enemies. Therefore, there was no need for those slave like refugees.
To alleviate the overpopulation problem, the Sixth Street officials also had to participate in the human labor business. They provided connections for specific “suppliers” and used them to sell the excessive refugees. Mercenaries or merchants would often purchase the refugees as bait. It’s fair to say that those people often did not end up in the best places. No one wasted nutrient supplies.
Therefore, the individual permitted to be sold were either incapable people that offered no value or criminals.
Jiang Chen hesitated again because he didn’t want either type of people to join him.
A terrible character would be difficult to control, but someone who was weak-bodied would also be challenging.
“Boss, you don’t have to worry. These people will wear electronic bracelets once they are sold. Therefore if they do any harm…” Wang Yi saw the hesitation in Jiang Chen’s eyes and carefully explained it to him. In the end, he made a gunshot gesture.
Although he was still worried, there were no better solutions. Jiang Chen sighed again as he must make a decision from the group of criminals. He just needed to be careful, that’s all.
“010342, please stop or you will be shot immediately.” An emotionless voice echoed through the door as Jiang Chen looked in that direction.
A soft body tackled his leg and he paused a little before looking down.
“I am sorry that I overheard your conversation. I know computers. Please, buy me.” The girl spoke in a fast tone. The emotion cast by her pupil transitioned between fear and desperation.
As the tiny body grappled onto his leg, Jiang Chen cautiously touched the weapon on his back. However, after he saw the soldier signaling him not to overreact and point his gun at the girl, Jiang Chen immediately abandoned the idea of pulling out his gun.
The soldier grabbed the girl like he was grabbing a chicken. Jiang Chen raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything.
Although he sympathized with her, he was worried about the girl’s intentions. What if it was a trap by the Huizhong Mercenaries?
“I am very sorry. There are always plenty of people that don’t want to live to see tomorrow’s daylight,” Wang Yi apologized profusely. He also motioned for the soldier to send the girl back to camp.
Jiang Chen noticed the girl had a watch like item on her wrist. The item was constantly flashing. If anyone who received low-income left the ghetto, it would immediately trigger the alarm.
“If she is sent back, what would happen to her?” Jiang Chen asked carelessly.
“Put into a work camp.” Wang Yi shrugged, as things like this happened every day.
“Even a kid that young can work?”
“She is not that young. Usually, only people above the age of 16 wear those bracelets. She is just a bit malnourished. Anyways, boss, who do you want to select ….”
“I’ll pick the girl.” Jiang Chen sighed as he made the decision. A girl that thin and weak would die almost immediately in the work camp. Jiang Chen saw a lot of dead bodies since he came to the wasteland, he even killed someone with his own hands. But he couldn’t let the girl be taken to a hell like place right in front of his own eyes, especially if he was the reason. Jiang Chen tried to convince himself.
[Maybe that was my conscience after all? ] Something rare, but valuable.
“Hmm?” Confused, Wang Yi paused before he approached Jiang Chen.
“Boss, if you are into those types, there are some better choices. I have some connections that could help you…”
“You seem to have a lot to say.”
Wang Yi looked at Jiang Chen’s cold and emotionless face, and a shiver went down his spine.
“Yes, Yes, No problem,” it was foolish to offend the customer as Wang Yi apologized again.
“How long would it take to finish the process?”
“Approximately one day. Please tell me your address.” Although the girl just violated the rule which made her a criminal, it would still take some procedures before she could be sold.
“Two crystal units, I’ll wait here.”
“Boss, there is a justice system.”
“Three crystal units. I am referring to just the tip,” Jiang Chen said without patience. Civilization doesn’t even exist here, and you are telling me about the justice system.
“Yes! I will take care of it for you immediately.” Wang Yi jogged to his office as he made the necessary contacts with his “connections” quickly. Although the guy looked fat, he was quite efficient.
Jiang Chen only waited for half an hour before a soldier brought the girl to the door. He noticed that in just half an hour, there was already a bruise on the girl’s face.
Wang Yi saw Jiang Chen’s dark facial expression as he tried to comfort him. “Boss, the examination took some time, but that’s for your safety. Please understand,” he whispered into Jiang Chen’s ear, “The examiner told me that she is still a virgin, haha.”
Jiang Chen briefly moved his head away. The guy felt like a portable heat source with an unpleasant aroma.
Jiang Chen signed on the agreement as he left five units of crystal on the table. After today, the girl coded 010342 would have nothing to do with Sixth Street.
“You, what’s your name?” Jiang Chen looked at the bruise on the girl’s left cheek and the blood stains on her arms. He moved his eyes away for a moment and took a deep breath.
The bruise was the result of a hit with a gun barrel. Although it was unrelated to Jiang Chen, he felt responsible for it.
“Yao Jiayu,” the girl answered in a quiet and obedient voice, but the tone sounded fragmented and frightened.
“So you understand computers?”
“Yes, I do!” The girl suddenly raised her voice, but she immediately realized her abruptness and lowered her head. “I received a designation of B in computer programming in the virtual education system. So I am confident in both programming and hacking.”
“Oh, then why are you stuck in such a horrendous place?” Jiang Chen looked at the girl with a little shock. If a 16 years old can do that well, then she would be a genius in the modern world. However, this seemed quite reasonable in the apocalypse. The virtual education system sped up the basic education process and trained people based on the individual’s talent and potential. Therefore, a person would excel in one particular area after a few years. Almost everyone who grew up in a survival base received that kind of education. A designation of B was quite distinctive.
The girl’s name, Yao Jiayu, was clearly from a survival base but she ended up here for some reason. It was quite common as the resources at the survival base were depleted, the people inside would leave to search for a new home. Almost everyone from there would go to the survival camp.
“There are a lot of people in the ghetto that can do it.” Yao Jiayu blushed. She then lowered her head diffidently. Afraid Jiang Chen would not be happy; she then raised her head courageously.
“Although I might not be the best in the area, I believe in my potential. I am also very obedient. If you ask me to do anything, I will not resist…” At the end of the sentence, Jiang Chen couldn’t tell if it was because of excitement or embarrassment, the girl’s face turned red like the sun at dawn.
Jiang Chen grinned as she saw the girl struggle to sell herself. He didn’t care about the crystals he spent. It’s like money; it’s meant to be spent.
“Relax, you don’t have to be so stressed out working for me.”
Yao Jiayu quivered in agreement. Jiang Chen suddenly realized her clothes. They were thin textiles that laid flat on her small and tiny body. It seemed that everyone in the ghetto wore those types of clothing. After she had left the camp, all her “assets” were confiscated, which included an old jacket.
She shook her head as she continued to shiver.
Jiang Chen just realized that the girl shivered not because she was afraid of him, but because the temperature was too low.
He let out a sigh. To Yao Jiayu’s disbelief, he took off his trench coat and covered her.
“Don’t catch a cold, it’s difficult to get treated here.”
Jiang Chen wasn’t the master of taking care of people, but the girl silently nodded her head. Her oily hair covered what seemed like a smile of happiness.
“Hmm?” Jiang Chen glanced over.
Jiang Chen smiled and didn’t continue asking. He did a good deed after all, which made him feel warm inside. Maybe this was the trait of a civilized person.
Yao Jiayu peaked at the smile on Jiang Chen’s face and then lowered her head in fear as she tightened the trench coat.
[It was warm.]
She didn’t say it, but she waited so long for this day. Every day she hid in the corner of the labor market to peek at the people that were buying slaves. She wanted to find someone who was not so bad.
There were ruthless mercenaries, wealthy merchants, and people she didn’t understand very well.
But this was the first time she ran to a buyer. She didn’t even understand herself. Why did she risk her life to plead at this man? Maybe it was because of the way he looked in the ghetto. He had a glimpse of a special emotion; the emotion called sympathy. Although it was just a little, and it was almost gone, it was still there.
So if she didn’t take her chance then, she would spend the rest of her life in hell. She knew that the reason those bastards in the ghetto didn’t touch her yet was that she didn’t hit puberty. But once she grew up, she knew she would face the same kind of misery her sister next door faced.
Forced to use her body in exchange for a pack of cigarettes? Or be humiliated by a group of people?
She witnessed her father fight for her mother’s life, till death. She also saw her mother’s helpless plea. She witnessed too many tragedies unfit for her age.
The world was insane.
If the result would be the same if she had to depend on someone else to survive, why not choose someone that can treat her slightly better. Maybe not better, but if that person beat her a little less, she would be extremely glad.
If she didn’t risk it and Jiang Chen didn’t buy her, maybe death at the work camp was not a bad finale after all.