Convention - Ch. 5 George And His Underground Farm
“Even a small ax, if swung in succession, can bring down a large oak tree.”
The person sitting in the shadows spoke, her voice is unruffled.
“Lost our base, lost the key that we went through so much to obtain, and suffered such a huge loss. How can you still have the face to come back to me now?”
“Did you not anticipate a loss of this magnitude?”
The person standing across the shadows was not shaken by the pressuring question. Instead, her voice was full of confidence. The light of the dawn outside the blinds shone on her face. Her blond hair scattered on her brown trench coat reflected a little light. Just a short time ago, a person who escaped with an important ‘key’ under her nose called her by name – ‘Wakatsuki Uraki’.
The corners of Wakatsuki Uraki’s mouth rose slightly, and she said:
“The castaways were meant to be discarded, right?”
As soon as the words left her mouth, something in the shadows made the sound unique to heavy objects cutting through the air, tumbled up into the air, and then crashed heavily towards her. She did not dodge, did not even block, did not blink, and let the thing approach her.
In an instant, the wood made a miserable crunching sound of breaking.
A few red streams slowly flowed down from Ruo Yue’s forehead and dripped down her chin, finally falling on her dark brown trench coat. Behind her are shattered pieces of wood and papers all over the floor — just seconds ago, they were an expensive and bulky desk.
“Don’t talk back to me.”
In the shadows, the woman sat in a swivel chair, legs crossed. She spoke coldly and had silver hair that was unmistakable, even in the shadows. She was draped in an immaculate white suit, and her deep purple eyes were looking at Wakatsuki.
“Professor, it hurts.” That’s what Wakatsuki had always called her, just like everyone else.
“It is supposed to hurt,” the Professor frowned. “If it doesn’t hurt, you won’t remember.”
After the words, the Professor held her face in her hands and bowed her head as if to hide her weary face.
Behind the Professor, there was a huge painting hanging on the wall. In the center of the picture is an old man holding a young man who has lost the color of blood and life in his arms. The old man had committed an irreparable transgression — yes, the author of the bloodshed in front of him was himself. He stared wide-eyed, not knowing whether he was horrified at the terrible results of his anger or was in awe with his angry self.
A long sigh came from the large room.
“Your failure disappoints me.”
The Professor slowly rose from her chair, her movements looking sluggish and weary as if she could not move without the support of the cane in her hand.
“As you say, most of those things are castaways.”
The Professor whispered in her husky voice.
“You know what a man has to do to insult another man?”
“Rob him of his holy relics.”
The Professor muttered to herself as she walked straight to a shelf with a pile of unrelated items. Her eyes fell on one of the square stones. Then, she brushed her hand across the pitted surface, her eyes revealing her undisguised obsession with it.
“This stone is ‘Jacob’s pillow’, in the Celtic Christian legend, Jacob used this stone as a pillow when he met the angels. You are probably more familiar with the ‘Stone of Scone’ or ‘Stone of Destiny’ as a name.”
She said so, cupping the stone in one hand.
“It’s a symbol of victory,” Wakatsuki said.
Before the words left her mouth, there was a loud sound, and the stone was smashed hard on the ground by the Professor, breaking apart in pieces.
“Do you know why I like to collect those holy relics? It’s for this.”
“I remember what you did to St. Peter’s bones last …… time,” Wakatsuki shrugged. “That dog would be terrified if he knew the truth.”
“So your failure irritates me.” The Professor stepped forward and poked Wakatsuki in the shoulder with her cane. “It doesn’t matter what my stupid daughter wants, but she took away the holy relic I needed, and it could have undone decades of our efforts.”
“As you say,” Wakatsuki said calmly, seemingly unafraid of the increasingly agitated Professor in front of her, or at least …… she didn’t show it.
“Forget it, this is a ‘possibility’ that we can’t predict.” Seemingly feeling helpless at this attitude of Wakatsuki, the Professor shook her head.
She picked up a statement from the floor, which was on the desk that was just thrown out, on which a series of people’s names were densely recorded with various data analysis and evaluation behind these names. She coldly swept through it and threw the paper to Wakatsuki.
“There are so many people still alive in the hospital?” The Professor asked.
“Yes, it’s probably because the fire drills and stuff were done properly before.” Wakatsuki stretched her hands, seemingly couldn’t help it.
“So what’s the disposition?”
“The same as the information in the database, destroy it all, the new future doesn’t need these unenlightened brains.”
“What’s going to happen to Missy and your ‘key’?”
“Let her be, things can always be brought back, but the fortunate thing is—”
The Professor said, and the corners of her mouth lifted gently upward.
“My honored guest, who has come from afar, is still with me.”
When and where Lei Ke took out the little white flag that he was waving around in his hand, I have no clue. I just took my eyes off of him for a short while, and he just conjured up all these things out of thin air: a small white tour guide flag, a megaphone that popped out of nowhere, oh, and a tour guide hat, buckled on his already tightly covered hood. He did not seem to be hot at all doing so. Lei Ke jumped the whole way, children indeed like the feeling of leading others.
But to be honest, the complexity of this place is indeed beyond my imagination. At the very beginning of the room and walking down the corridor, I thought it was all a road straightened out but that is what it seems like. If you ask why it is because there seem to be doors on both sides of the corridor, and behind the door, is another corridor full of doors. The corridor behind the door is another corridor full of doors again. This back and forth is comparable to the Minoan maze.
I don’t know the reason for this strange and inefficient design, but Lei Ke seemed to know the whole route by heart, so I had to admire this little dwarf’s memory.
After Lei Ke pushed open the next door, a cold air suddenly hit me. My eyes could barely open because of the strong wind …… I rubbed my eyes hard. After a while, my frozen eyelids could fully open.
The only thing that could be confirmed was the black shadows that moved slightly in the fog. In such a large fog, even Lake’s hand danced, I could not see very clearly, so I had to bend down.
“This place is… a quarry?”
I tried to translate Lake’s words …… if this is a quarry, it’s a harsh mining environment. As I thought this, the shadow in the fog came closer my way, but I still couldn’t see what it was. I didn’t see them until the group of dark shadows passed in front of my nose.
It was about 14 or 15 people, all the same as the ‘Eternal Undead’ people I saw before, wearing gas masks and wrapping their faces with bandages of some sort, probably because they had to work in this environment. They were wearing much thicker clothes than those indoors, which made their bandages less conspicuous. I do not know if it was an illusion, some black things are still faintly floating out between their bandages, but soon mixed in the fog and disappeared.
Several of them tugged on a rope, struggling to pull, completely ignoring me and Lei Ke, as if we did not exist. These people faced the land and hunched to pull forward, without saying a word. Even though their faces were wrapped in airtight masks and bandages, they could not hide their rapid panting and were trying to suppress their coughs. Each step they take, the next step will be more and more difficult to continue, and what they were carrying was simply a piece of granite that looked nothing out of the ordinary. Judging from the messy and bad cut, the tools used to cut the stone and the way they carried it was similarly primitive.
What was happening in front of me made it hard to imagine that this was the twenty-first century, a time when excavators and grinding wheels were already available, but instead, it reminded me of earlier places, times when the climate was very different from here.
“Where are they going to transport the stones?”
I asked Lei Ke.
Lei Ke responded in his usual way. He held out his hand and pointed to the distant sky. Although I didn’t know what he was pointing to because of the thick fog …… but, from the height his hand was raised, I think it might be a tower.
Since ancient times, most of the world’s religions have taken the tower as a symbol of sublimity, as if there is something to be gained from being closer to the sky. There’s nothing but altitude sickness and an increased probability of falling to your death at a high altitude. There’s the Eightfold Tower of Buddhism, the Mayan Chichen Itza, and the Tower of Babel — the great work of the century recounted in many sacred texts, so it seems highly likely that this tower was also built for that little white-haired girl.
“It’s almost like the Pharaohs. ……”
I said to myself.
Indeed, the people who were carrying the stones with all their strength were like the workers who built the pyramids for the Pharaohs. The same way, the same purpose …… during the time I spent in the hospital, what was happening outside?
Could it be that there was some opportunity to trigger a religious revival? But why the way it was built is so behind? It’s really hard to understand.
Witnessing the squared-off stone gradually moving away in the fog, my mood was a bit complicated. What kind of person is Mo Xiao’s sister ……?
Lei Ke waved a small flag, pulling on my hand wanting to take me further inside the quarry. But I pulled him back and shook my head at him, and frankly, I always felt something inside would make my mood bad. Instead of that, it would be better to just not go in.
Lei Ke was a little surprised at my hesitation, he cocked his head at me for a moment, but still did not force me into the fog.
After returning indoors, Lake dragged me to the next place. Following Lei Ke down the lengthy steps — past the narrow passageway. A sharp glare of light stung my eyes.
After a second or two, my eyes adjusted slightly to this glare and opened.
If it’s just digging a hole underground, this kind of thing is no big deal today in the 21st century, it’s as simple as building an underground parking lot. My surprise wasn’t directed at the spaciousness of the place, but the strange view here ……
There are endless farmlands dotted with yellow stone pillars to support the entire cave roof. The surface of the stone pillars is cloaked with small mechanical scale armor, these scales will open and close from time to time, followed by water ripples that spread from the stone pillars, gusts of breeze brushes the surrounding farmland.
“Is it real?”
I took a step forward, the ground was a little damp, probably just got watered. I bent down and touched the swaying wheat beside me.
As far as I could see, patches of wheat were divided into different areas by clean roads, and because the wheat grains were ripe, the wheat was swaying gently even without the breeze that helps with pollination by the scales. But what was a little puzzling was that I seemed to see some fragments of bandages in the wheat field. Could it be because the faithful of the “Eternal Undead” often travel through them and accidentally leave them behind?
At that moment, a small glowing object swept over my head, and I hurriedly got up to find out what was going on.
“Complementary light ball? I seem to have seen this somewhere,”
The spheres of light that followed a set course in the air, emitting a warm glow and wobbling through the farmland, making the wheat look more like the product of a combination of magic and technology.
I gently cupped an ear of wheat in front of me, and the prosperous scene here really made it impossible to relate to the desolation outside. I knew that in the past people relied on greenhouse supplemental lights to grow fruits and vegetables in the opposite season, but I never thought it was possible to grow wheat.
“You can grow it in a greenhouse?”
“This is barley.”
Someone suddenly corrected me, and I looked in the direction where the voice came from. A short figure plucked away the stalks of wheat and walked out of the field beside me. He emerged from the wheat field just a little taller than the wheat, almost like a child.
“You’re so tall, you have lived for so long, how come you can’t distinguish between the five grains?”
Saying so, he turned his head to face me. I was slightly taken aback, it’s not like a child, this is exactly a child, a 12 or 13-year-old boy. The guy in front of me had short, slightly curly blond hair, and the pretty almond eyes of a child. He was wearing a completely ill-fitting white coat, the hem of which was dragging on the ground, soiled by the mud of the field, and a pair of rain boots on his feet that were so high compared to his size that they could almost be worn as pants, caging his thighs straight.
“Ah, Lei Ke, have you come over to inspect again?”
With a cute arrogant look like a child, he slowly and leisurely walked towards us.
“Seriously, you don’t have to run here all the time. I am a genius, you can trust me.”
“He is bringing me to visit.”
After Lei Ke danced around with his hands and answered, I expressed Lei Ke’s meaning on his behalf as usual.
He glared at me with squinted eyes.
“Even though my mom told me not to talk to strangers, you don’t seem like a bad guy, you’re new here?”
“Well, sort of.” I shrugged.
After I finished, Lei Ke proceeded to wave his hand, saying that I was his friend.
“Hahahahahahaha, so you’re Lei Ke’s friend.”
Hearing this, he finally raised his head to look at me squarely, only that expression was a bit twisted. He stared, gritted his teeth, and made a forced smile like he was being forced into marriage, which didn’t match his lines at all.
“Lei Ke’s friend is my friend!”
While making a scary face and saying friendly words, he yanked my hand, and I guess he wanted to clamp my hand and make me hurt to vent his frustration. But his strength is too small, he exerted all his strength and I could not feel any pressure. So the choke lasted about a dozen or twenty seconds, then he finally realized that his actions are futile, and let go of the hand to lean on the pole beside him panting heavily.
“Are you …… okay?”
“That’s too much! Lei Ke! Didn’t we agree that we are the best friends!?”
Turning back with a snotty nose and tears rolling, he yelled at Lei Ke. Lei Ke hurriedly waved his hand and explained.
“You’re still my best friend, he’s just my new friend …… he said that.” Looking at the kid with his head cocked plausibly, I translated for Lei Ke.
“You got it again, you got it again, even this genius can’t necessarily read Lei Ke’s sign language, you can read it?”
“Uh…I…actually guessed.” I scratched my head.
“That’s it.” He said and raised his head. “But as Lei Ke’s best friend, I’d like to welcome you, after all, you’re Lei Ke’s new friend.”
“Well, thanks ……”
So is this his recognition of my earlier translation or not? This is a troublesome little child, but also in line with the general nature of children — can not stand their friends playing with other people, so he does not like me very much. After a strong request from Lei Ke, he reluctantly took me to wander around this underground greenhouse, only this hostility has not dissipated. Now and then, he would turn around and give me a vicious glare.
“Uh…speaking of which, this is underneath the castle, right?” So I had to bring up some topic, hoping to ease this hostile glare.
“Hmph.” He grunted coldly.
“So that means …… you guys are hollowing out the mountain?”
“It’s not bad.”
No, not at all, I secretly lamented the unpleasant feeling. Such a conversation made the atmosphere more and more awkward. I looked at the Lei Ke, this guy did not even notice the atmosphere, just feeling easy and comfortable to follow the boy. Is this kid usually so well-behaved? Just thinking about it, the boy turned back to me and gave me a vicious glare, as if what was in my mind had been heard.
He quickly turned back, which gave me a small sigh of relief, if only there were others at this time to help ease the atmosphere. If this continues, the visit will become less important and less impactful.
We walked for about ten minutes, I think, and I didn’t see a single person except for this kid, I couldn’t help but ask.
“Uh, after walking for so long, why haven’t we seen a single person?”
“Because I’m the one running the place.” The boy replied lightly.
“Alone? You run such a big place all by yourself?” This was a bit hard to believe.
“So what?” He said and stopped, showing a toothy grin. “I’m a genius, what’s hard to govern a plantation of a hundred miles.”
“Oh? Do you think it’s impressive too? Of course, because I’m a genius!”
A phrase, just a praise, his attitude immediately changed a one hundred eighty degrees into the kind of arrogant expression characteristic of children, but he also has the capital of pride, being a person to manage such a large piece of land, especially set the path of the complementary light ball and the frequency of opening and closing the stone pillar piece, indeed requires very great talent. A child, after all, is still a child, a little compliment can excite him up, and in a flash forget the previous disagreement.
Putting his hands behind his back, he walked in front of me with his head raised, like a master, explaining to me all kinds of things here like a family treasure.
What is said that can be described as all sorts of things, like agricultural remote sensing monitoring, multi-level coordination network, long-distance wireless device charging, and even with the complimentary light ball to achieve Li-Fi light fidelity and other technologies, sounds like something special.
I looked at these instruments in the distance and felt very familiar as if I had seen them somewhere.
It was at the Library! These instruments all appeared in the Library’s textbooks. The teacher said, due to the current level of technology and the cost of construction, these things are difficult to be put into large-scale use, it seems Mo Xiao did not lie to me, the Library course is only going till 2020.
Hmm? Just then, I noticed that Lei Ke seemed to have disappeared. I thought he was walking behind me just now.
“Lei Ke seems to have disappeared?”
“It’s okay, let him do whatever he wants, he’s always pop out of nowhere like this, even if you ask a genius like me I can’t possibly know where he is.”
“So, ah ……”
“Speaking of which, what’s your name?” After walking a few more steps he suddenly asked me coldly, as if he had just remembered that I had a name. “Depending on the situation I might consider remembering it.”
“HuangYuan, what a perfunctory name, your parents must not have given it much thought when they named you.”
(TLN: Forgot to mention MC’s name HuangYuan [荒原] means wastelands.)
“That’s ……” he said. I could not refute, indeed the name HuangYuan sounds as if it is very poetic, but on closer examination, there’s little positive interpretation for it.
“I’m different, this genius name is one in a million carefully selected!”
“So what’s your name?” I asked curiously, looking at his blonde appearance should be a foreigner, probably also a foreign name.
“George!” He said loudly as he puffed out his chest.
“George Elton Mayo! How about that! It’s a very good name, isn’t it!”
“George Elton Mayo? You mean the famous psychologist Elton Mayo?”
Upon hearing this name, the appearance of that ‘Hawthorne Experiment’ initiator immediately came to mind, and I blurted out. I instantly noticed the eyes cast from George and realized that I had said something wrong.
He first glared at me angrily, followed by two eyes moistened, tightly biting his lips, almost crying out.
“I, I was not renamed after others!” He yelled at me, his throat stuffed with aggression. “I’m unique!”
After saying this, he puffed up and walked on, supposedly not wanting to discuss the issue of his name with me anymore. I had to silently follow behind him and continue to tour this amazing farm.
I suddenly noticed a special crop growing in the field around me, which looked a bit like sorghum but it was colorful. The name of this crop gradually became clear in my mind.
“Ah, what’s this, it’s pretty,” I tried to ask George.
He replied without thinking.
“Uh …… this is barley?” I frowned, no matter where it looks from is not barley, right, if I remember correctly, this should be quinoa, strict growing conditions, and its nutrient-rich alpine crops, the traditional crops of the Incas, golden food! It’s expensive and classified in the international market as A-class food! It’s outrageous to compare barley with it!
“Yeah, that’s barley.”
“So …… what is this?” I pulled over barley behind me and asked.
“This is also barley, all the things grown here are barley.”
Hearing his words, I fell silent for a while …… I am sure enough the very first one is wheat. Although the two crops look very similar, even I am not always able to distinguish the difference, but …… no matter what, the difference between barley and quinoa is still too much, right?
Just when I was still struggling with these issues, George seemed to suddenly remember something and pulled out a remote control from his pocket.
“It’s almost time to water.”
He pressed the button, the field was suddenly covered with water mist, and he began to explain very proudly.
“This misting technology makes it easier to cover the whole field with water so that every plant draws moisture ……”
“Also the water vapor laced with photosynthesis enhances photosynthesis in the crops.” I picked up smoothly.
“Huh? How do you know all this?” George stared at me with wide eyes.
These are exactly the original words from the Library’s “Overview of the Intelligent Farm of the Future”, does that mean this place is connected to the Library somehow? I slowly recalled that this course was not taught by anyone, and most of the time the students read this textbook on their own, but I could not remember who the author is. I should have known if I was going to need it now.
At this time, the light from the complimentary light ball also became more dazzling than before, George once again began to explain up.
“These complementary light spheres stimulate the plants by properly raising the light, further absorbing water and photosynthesis.”
“George, wait a minute,” I said to him, “have you ever been to a place called the Library? Or ever been on some very large ship?”
“A Library? Do you mean Sister Bebe’s study room? I’ve never been to a place like that, I’m a genius who doesn’t need to go to the Library.” George said to me proudly.
“What about the boat? The very big kind. Have you ever been on a sea trip before?”
“No! Mom said she wouldn’t take me out on the ocean until I learned how to swim! Why do you always ask inexplicable questions!” George beamed.
The underground farm was built according to the knowledge taught in the Library. The builder might have studied in the Library like me, or he was a researcher or even a textbook writer at the Library, but why he would give his farm to a child who didn’t know anything about managing it was beyond me. I couldn’t understand.
I took a step forward and stepped on the wet ground again.
I immediately noticed the fact that the ground here was wet, to begin with? How come he’s watering it again.
“You seem to have watered it prior?” I tried to ask him.
“Yeah, this is the fifteenth time.”
“Stop it!” Wheat, quinoa, and barley are all crops that don’t need water that much, and this will drown those crops. Looking at those weird dishes in the cafeteria, I expected the food here to not be very self-sufficient, and now I know why… what a waste!
“You’ll flood them to death if you feed them so much water!”
“It’s okay, it’s okay, mom says they will only grow strong if they eat a lot.”
“Plants are different, right? ……”
“You have to believe in this genius!” He confidently patted his chest, stuffed the remote control back into his pocket, and walked away.
I didn’t know how I can convince him. Looking at the dryland crops that were gradually being covered by the water flooding up from the soil, it was such a waste. In a short while, the place would be covered with corpses, right?
At that moment, I found a standing figure in a field not far away, amid the water mist raised by the sprinkler, this figure looks a little ghostly and indistinct. She did not care about the falling water drops, and bent down slightly among the standing stalks, picking up a bunch of pink quinoa that had been watered so much that it could not lift its head, as if she was admiring some kind of flower.
Suddenly, she turned her head and met my eyes for a moment — this woman, wasn’t she the one that Lei Ke and I had met in front of the cafeteria earlier? The cheek she had touched earlier seemed to start burning a little again.
“I remember you.”
She was standing far away from me, but I could hear her voice.
“You’re new here, right?”
“Lei Ke brought him here.” Before I could open my mouth to respond, George snapped. “He’s an admirer of this genius oh!”
“Is that so ……”
Belita glanced at George with squinted eyes and slowly walked up from the field again. Surprisingly she walks down the field without shoes, two pairs of slender feet soaked with mud.
She walked straight towards me step by step, and stopped in front of me with a tired face as if she had just returned from the battlefront, and once again extended her hand to me. Her cool fingers brushed my cheek, traced my neck, and traced circles back and forth over my shoulder.
“That’s nice.” She murmured.
“Eh? No, nice? What do you mean?”
I was completely baffled by this bizarre behavior of hers, plus the fact that it was covered in bandages, my scalp couldn’t help but tingle a little.
“Of course it’s your body …… ah, I want it badly ……”
Just like a broken repeater, Berita repeatedly chattered creepy words. Her other hand also reached towards me, stroking on the neck, chest, and even abdomen — like a poisonous snake wrapped around the body. She came closer and closer to me, so close that I could make out her purple-gray, dirty-water-like eyes, without a trace of brilliance, as if that imprinted above the deep black eyes was some kind of flux, not a human pupil.
“Plea, please stop!” I shook off her hand violently, and my body took several uncontrollable steps back until I was at a safe enough distance from her to calm my dazed head a little.
Belita seemed startled by my action, but only for a moment, and then returned to the face of a dying person.
“Are you shy?”
The corners of her mouth lifted slightly and she said in a teasing tone.
“Don’t worry, I don’t have that kind of interest in you.”
“Well, well ……” I was a little embarrassed all of a sudden, not knowing what to say.
“But it’s my problem to make direct contact with you right off the bat, sorry about that.”
She then said, seeming to become quite calm compared to just now.
“No, it’s okay……”
“No, you can’t say that, men and women shouldn’t get that close, no matter what, my behavior’s crossed the line …… however, I do want your body …… well, no… …” she shook her head in the middle of her sentence. “To be precise, what I want is your ‘health’.”
My ‘health’? That was a puzzling statement.
“Since you’re new here, come with me, you need to receive a little basic knowledge to survive here.”
She turned around as she spoke as if to tell me to follow, but before her dirty, bare feet had taken two steps, she stopped again and turned around, but not to face me, but to George.
“Before that, turn off the water, the precious crops will die if you keep this up.”
“It’s okay, it’s just more water,” George replied unconcerned.
“Turn it off.”
The woman repeated the order. George opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something else, but before the woman said the word ‘turn it off’ again, he stopped, meekly turned off the water, and slunk off elsewhere with a resigned look on his face.
She looked at the distant George and turned back to me.
“Come with me, I’ll show you something interesting.”
(TLN: Thank you Anju for editing this chapter 0w0)