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Old Fox Quark sat behind the counter in his own shop with half a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He appeared casual and his eyes revealed a trace of satisfaction.
The settlement was nothing stellar. Compared to Safety Sector No. 17, it was like a dumpster. With a dark environment and no daylight throughout the year, it reeked of corrupted stench. Most of its resentful citizens were greedy but cowardly like rats. It was no wonder they could only live underground.
Even so, Quark was unwilling to leave the settlement despite already having the qualifications to move into Safety Sector No. 17.
Because he wanted to earn money, a lot of money. Then, he would find several reliable guys to send him away from this s.h.i.t hole.
What was Safety Sector No. 17? This world was big and interesting. Quark had seen it before, and he had his own lofty ambitions and pursuits.
Spitting out a mouthful of smoke, Quark felt slightly bored. The tobacco left behind by the old civilization might have been good, but it could not cure his frustration for sitting here dumbly for almost the whole day. The 'rats' of the settlement barely showed any results lately from their outing. Should this continue, he would have to consider taking early leave.
Right at the moment, three long and one short knocks came from the iron door, sounding a little rushed.
Quark's eyes gleamed, thinking that business had come by his doorstep.
He did not hire anyone, so he answered the door himself and when he saw it was Tang Ling in front of his door, a grin crossed his face.
Most of the citizens of the settlement were rats, but there were exceptions too, like this kid here who always surprised him.
Of course, Quark had always been investigating Tang Ling secretly. He wanted to know how this kid could always surprise him. His investigation up to this point was not entirely without a clue, but he dare not simply conclude it either.
Overall speaking, this kid was a lucky one. A lucky b.a.s.t.a.r.d was never resented wherever he went.
"Let me guess. What did you stumble upon this time? Is it some 'stones' that I need, or is it some miscellaneous things that I requested?" Quark eagerly asked Tang Ling.
Tang Ling did not answer. He quickly walked over and squeezed himself into Quark's store, heading to the counter.
Understanding, Quark closed the iron door with a bang before he went around the counter.
Without waiting for Quark to speak, Tang Ling removed a robust tree trunk that seemed like a weapon.
"Do you want to exchange this?" Quark looked rather sour. This kid arrived so mysteriously but took out a normal looking tree trunk. He did not remember this thing having any value.
Tang Ling still did not say anything and removed the string tied around the tree trunk. It opened up into two pieces. One of the two pieces was empty. Then, Tang Ling took the bottle out and put it on Quark's counter.
"Level 3 drinking water," Tang Ling announced calmly.
Quark's eyes shone. The area was suffering from a long drought, so water had become the most precious resources. Even the cheapest, barely drinkable Level 5 drinking water was in high demand, let alone Level 3 drinking water.
Normal people might not drink this kind of water, but the wealthy and honored lords in the Safety Sector needed it.
With the thought in mind, Quark twisted the cap open and carefully dipped his finger into the water, then put it into his mouth.
There was no contaminated stench and it was very clean. It was Level 3 drinking water that could reach the normal standard of drinking water in the old civilization.
"What are you exchanging it for?" Quark did not beat around the bush.
"The same old thing: food and meat!"
"The uncontaminated one? You know, water might be precious right now, but uncontaminated meat has always been the hard currency. A bottle of Level 3 drinking water like this can only get you, erm, at most, 2.5 kgs of meat." Quark winked.
Tang Ling looked down in silence. As a matter of fact, this bottle of Level 3 drinking water could be exchanged for at least 5 or even 6 kgs of uncontaminated meat.
However, Tang Ling did not have a choice. Throughout the entire settlement, trading at Quark's was the safest. The man would not force a trade or rob others, and more importantly, his mouth was sealed tight.
He seemed to have a powerful background. No one in the settlement dared to have ill thoughts about him. No one dared to touch the things exchanged at his place either. Those who harbored ill-intentions against him were all dead, all of them.
"No, low contamination will be enough." Tang Ling only went quiet for two seconds and soon made up his mind. The feeling from his chest was getting stronger. He could not delay it any longer.
"Hmm?" Quark raised a brow but did not ask anything. He continued straightforwardly, "If it's low contamination meat, you can get 10 kgs."
After getting an agreeable grunt from Tang Ling, Quark happily took the bottle of Level 3 drinking water and headed toward the secret door behind the counter. A while later, three dried black-toothed rats were tossed on the counter.
Tang Ling wanted to take the meat, yet he hesitated. He pushed one of them forward and said, "Change this to 1 kg of uncontaminated meat."
"I'm on the losing end here." Quark shook his head.
Tang Ling stubbornly looked at Quark. The cold sweat on his forehead had somehow acc.u.mulated into beads, dripping off his face.
"Fine, I'll change it for you." Quark compromised in the end. Judging from his looks, the kid might have suffered some internal injuries to get his hands on the Level 3 drinking water. He could give him some clean meat just to patch him up so that he could stay alive until the next trade.
Soon enough, Quark had everything prepared. Tang Ling stuffed the clean meat into the empty trunk, grabbed the two dried black-toothed rats and strode out from the secret door at the side of Quark's shop.
"This kid, can he even stay alive till the next time?" A trace of mercy flashed in Quark's eyes, but soon he calmed down. He picked up his cigarette which he had not finished and continued smoking while sitting behind his counter casually.
The secret exit in Quark's shop connected to an absolutely safe underground sewer. Under normal circ.u.mstances, other than the traders, no one would appear here.
There were a total of three of these underground sewers. Tang Ling was not worried about b.u.mping into someone by simply choosing one.
Squatting down in a dark, secluded corner, Tang Ling sweated coldly. His hands quivered as he grabbed the dried black-toothed rat, gnawing away at it with huge bites.
The meat of the black-toothed rats was not tasty at all. Other than the distinctive taste of contamination, it also tasted like sewer water. The stench would remain no matter what.
On top of that, it was tough and dry. Even if he would to stew it, it would take him almost a whole day, let alone the dried meat.
However, Tang Ling gnawed greedily, even if blood started to seep out from his teeth, he didn't slow down a bit. He even chewed and swallowed the bone whole.
It was not enough. More meat was required.
Tang Ling gnawed away half a black-toothed rat in the blink of an eye, yet he was still plagued by hunger.
He kept eating. A dried black-toothed rat would still have 3 to 3.5 kgs of meat, yet he gobbled it down in less than 10 minutes.
Blood dripped down the corner of his mouth, but in the next second, he continued to inhale the meat without a second thought. The hunger that came from his chest was like a furious spinning vortex.
It made Tang Ling feel that if he stopped, he would eat himself in the next second.
A few more minutes pa.s.sed, and the quiet sewer had no other noises other than Tang Ling's gnawing.
Until only about half of the two dried black-toothed rats were left, he finally stopped.
Tang Ling stood up after he finished eating. His eyes, however, did not show a sense of satisfaction, only doubts and fear that he could not brush away.