Chapter 104 A Rock and a Hard Place
Exodus TalesExodus Tales
The streets of Red Rock Base resembled the audience stands in a sports stadium as there were different layers that circled the base. Sarah and Xia Fei left the warehouse and followed the rings of streets to try and exchange some currency.
As star coins were not accepted here, Xia Fei had to resort to bartering. The most valuable items Xia Fei possessed were White Dews and Snake Eye Berries. These fruits were incredibly useful for fighters as they could be used to replenish energy in battle. Xia Fei would always carry a box filled to the brim of these fruits.
There are three well-known shops in the base with reasonable prices and nice owners. Ill take you there, said Sarah.
It seemed that Xia Feis strategy of buttering her up had worked wonders, and Sarah was already thinking with Xia Fei in mind. Less sophisticated women were usually more careful, but it was a whole different world once one got through them and into their comfort zones.
Xia Fei paused for a few moments to think. Ill divide the fruits into three portions and sell them to these three shops separately. This way, we will avoid possible suspicion had we sold such a large quantity of them all in one place.
Sarah hastily nodded. Of course. You have to be careful around here. Youre thinking more and more like a local now.
Heart of Spirit was incredibly pricey in Alliance-occupied areas, and it was not much lower here, either. One Snake Eye Berry could be exchanged for ten dollars worth of Heart of Spirit, while White Dew could be exchanged for four.
Xia Fei sold three hundred of each, meaning he had four thousand two hundred dollars in hand.
Xia Fei had firsthand confirmation of the huge profits in interstellar smuggling. Xia Fei estimated that, although the Hearts of Spirit he got were just small bits, they should fetch at least seven to eight hundred million star coins, whereas the fruits cost him twelve million star coins, resulting in about a six hundred percent profit margin.
Actually, the cheaper food he had on hand could be traded for a Heart of Spirit, too, and they had even more absurd exchange rates. For example, just a few pieces of chocolate could be traded for one dollar worth of Heart of Spirit, making it even more cost-effective than Snake Eye Berries.
Xia Fei had other plans for these food items, though. Moreover, he required a large amount of food each day to maintain his nutrient levels. As fixing the Lunar Eclipse was still days away, this food was crucial to Xia Fei.
Xia Fei and Sarah reached the maintenance workshop on the lowest floor after they were done exchanging currencies. The only maintenance workshop in the base was decently big. It had six parking spots and two different repair shops with twenty or so staff.
Xia Fei quickly looked around, only to discover that the gear in this shop was incredibly old. Many machines in use were produced hundreds of years ago.
Sarah, how come you have time to visit us today? Ive missed you so much.
Let me treat you to some barbecue tonighta few drinks, too.
The members of the staff walked up to Sarah, making jokes as they greeted her. Sarah gave these perverted employees a cold look as she punched and kicked at them.
Get back to work! yelled an old man in his fifties. The workers quickly went back to their stations and resumed work with their eyes on Sarahs full bottom swaying fore and aft.
Uncle Andy, Sarah quickly greeted.
Andy nodded, bringing Xia Fei and Sarah into his office. She introduced Xia Fei to Andy, making sure to mention that he was Allens nephew from a distant base from when they first met.
Andy furrowed his brows as he took a look at his repair checklist. These are all high-tier goods; Im afraid that itll be very difficult to find these in the Wild Star Region.
Xia Fei lit a cigarette and said, Would we be able to find these from other bases?
Unlikely. Andy took a quick look at Xia Fei. My workshop is one of the bigger ones across the Wild Star Region. Many ships that other bases cant fix end up here. Ill help you ask around, but dont expect much.
Im still hoping that I can fix it, but Ill think of something else in any case, said Xia Fei.
Andy placed his checklist on the table and walked him to the door. You know, the communication interference is quite strong in this region. Ill need two days to search for these parts in the whole region, so come again the morning after tomorrow.
Xia Fei nodded. He handed him a bag containing five hundred dollars as a deposit before leaving with Sarah the way they came.
Is that Andy guy trustworthy? asked Xia Fei. Anyone who was in the industry could tell right away from Xia Feis checklist that Lunar Eclipse was a high-tier warship. It would not be surprising if they tried to gouge him for more money.
I heard from the old man that Andy came here because he accidentally killed his wifes lover. He started from a repair job until he became the owner of one of the best workshops in the region, all because of how tightlipped he is and knowing his way around conflict. We residents arent like those drifters everywhere. Theres no way you can survive in the Wild Star Region if you dont know how to keep a secret, explained Sarah.
Sarahs words made sense. The businesses of the residents in Wild Star Region were dependent on pirates and thugs. Obviously, those types of people were not the friendly sort, so the residents could easily lose their lives if they stepped out of line.
Xia Fei was a stranger in these parts, and who could guarantee that a stranger was a good person? In reality, not knowing who Xia Fei was probably helped him.
A band of soldiers in dirt-yellow uniforms were walking down the street. They wore hats that were slightly tilted to an angle, with laser guns strapped on their shoulders. They looked intimidating, to say the least.
This group was going down the street as they pleased. A beggar who had missing legs on the street frantically tried to crawl away with his two hands when he spotted these soldiers. One of the soldiers walked over and kicked him on the back. Couldnt you crawl any faster, old man?
The passersby on the streets were scrambling to avoid the bunch that they despised so much, yet could not stand up against.
There was also a teenager following behind the group. He could be described as handsome with incredibly fair skin. Sadly, he seemed to have succumbed to alcoholism despite his young age, slouching as he staggered about in a slightly off-balance manner.
Sarah dragged Xia Fei to hide in an alleyway.
Those are members of the Ning clans army. When I was delivering the slave this morning, I heard that two more of their bodyguards were killed and are now looking for the killer. Since youre new around here, you should try to avoid them, Sarah said nervously.
Xia Fei leaned on a corner, pointing at the pale teen. And whos that?
Ning Dian. The Ning familys old man has three sons, but Ning Dian is the only male child of his generation, so hes incredibly full of himself. Everyone at Red Rock Base tries to avoid him, explained Sarah with a slight quiver in her voice, suggesting the hatred she harbored against the youth.
Dawn, the day after tomorrow, Xia Fei returned to Andys workshop as promised.
How come Sarahs not with you? asked Andy.
Shes been busy helping deliver slaves. She should be done by afternoon, replied Xia Fei.
Andy nodded, handing back Xia Feis checklist from his desk.
There were detailed descriptions on each of the parts, going over if they existed in the region, where they were, when they would arrive, and how much they cost. It was comprehensive; evidently, Andy had spent a lot of time on this.
However, thirty or so parts from the first four pages were missing. Those parts were crucial to Lunar Eclipse, and without them, there was no way it could leave this star region.
Thanks, Xia Fei said with a smile. It was not Andys fault that there were missing parts, and he did not blame him, for he saw how much effort the latter had put into this.
What do you plan to do today? asked Andy.
I want to try my luck at the ancient battlefields. If that doesnt work, Ill just buy an industrial ship and drag my ship to an Alliance-occupied area and fix it there, said Xia Fei.
Andy shook his head. Setting aside scavenging at the ancient battlefields, for now, dragging it to an Alliance-occupied area is a no go.
Oh, whats wrong with that? Xia Fei asked curiously.
Industrial ships are slow by nature. Itll take at least two hours for one to readjust after every warp, and the longer the distance, the longer the charging time. Plus, the industrial ship has a bigger signature, so its easier to be discovered.
The environment in the Wild Star Region is terrible. Metaliminal electrical storms and proton explosions occur everywhere. How could a clumsy and fragile industrial ship avoid all those imminent dangers?
A significant number of pirates populated the Wild Star Region. Many usually worked a job, and once they were done with the said job, they would change into another set of clothes and go around robbing others in space. In the eyes of the many residing in this star region, robbing and working were the same; both were just jobs.
Do you know why Sarah only goes out in the mornings? asked Andy.
Xia Fei shook his head. He had never asked Sarah about her job, nor had she mentioned it to him.
Thats because Sarah is only responsible for moving the cargo to the nearest safe spot. Its up to the buyer how to get it out of this region. In the Wild Star Region, industrial ships are only used to transport cargo between safe spots. Its never used to travel long distances.
If you wanted to transport cargo over a long distance, you should probably use a more agile frigate. Youll also warp less than one hundred lightyears every time as it keeps the charging time to a minimum while avoiding detection from radars.
Xia Fei furrowed his brows. He knew that a large amount of energy was released every time the warp engine created a temporary wormhole. The smaller the warp distance, the smaller the energy released, and the harder it was for radars to pick up.
Isnt it a waste of time to warp such short distances? asked Xia Fei.
Andy let out a hearty laugh. Well, theres not much you can do about it. Nobody dares to make large warps in the surrounding areas. Even when they are being careful, only three out of ten ships make it past the Wild Star Region. Thats why everything is so expensive here.
Xia Fei lowered his head, thinking, before laughing to himself. I guess Ill just have to try my luck at the ancient battlefields.