Empire Of The Ring Chapter 261
A rectangular car, made without any consideration of its design, was running on unpaved roads. It was a Russian minivan called UAZ that carried Youngho and Jong-il. The four-wheel-drive eight-seater van was simply made for its function, also was known for having no minor faults and good mileage. Since it started off as a military vehicle, it could run on the unpaved road, desert, mud, and mountainous roads, but its ride comfort was close to zero. It was a great car to have in the cold and rough region of Central Asia.
“My butt still hurts no matter how many layers of wool I lay on the seat. How on earth is this car made that it rattles this bad?”
Jong-il said as he massaged his sore behind in the passenger seat.
“This is developed as a military vehicle. Just be thankful about it. They’re made this way because soldiers shouldn’t fall asleep while driving.”
Even though it would be difficult to make it happen on purpose, the two could feel every single curve of the earth’s surface.
“Well, they should’ve made some more cushions if they decided to sell it to civilians.”
“But those Russians can make their cars sturdy. Other vehicles would’ve been broken by now.”
“Why don’t we hide the car somewhere around here and just run there? Or can we please take a little break?”
The two were on their way to face the Chinese force but were not nervous at all. Since they had been in different battlefields already, this was not new to them. They were only complaining that the car’s comfort level did not suit their expectation.
“Man, we so need more arms.”
The two could not bring any firearms, such as rifles since the Chinese inspectors at the border checkpoint were extremely strict. Because Uyghurs frequently gathered independence assemblies and launched attacks on governmental offices, they did not let people carry any huge-sized metal pieces that could be used as arms.
In some checkpoints, they even took out all of the things from vehicles and searched the floors and underneath of the vehicles meticulously. No one could hide a single knife from their eyes.
“I’m just glad that we got to hide our pistols in the leather shoes.”
Since the leather shoes that was connected to the mystical rings were invisible, they managed to bring pistols, but it was suicidal if they were going to roam around the border area with pistols only.
“If we can’t help, we should rob a military camp. We’ll be running in the mountain with our backpacks only. No one’s going to notice us.”
It seemed that Jong-il wanted to see what kind of weapons were there in the Chinese military camp near the border, but Youngho was also intrigued by the idea. He had heard that the Chinese force had reduced their soldiers from three million to two million and modernized private weapons and equipment. It was enough to make both curious.
Leaving the regular path, the two drove on the rim of the Taklamakan Desert since there were too many checkpoints on the road that was built around the Tian Shan mountain range. Not to mention, the inspectors kept asking about the purpose of their visit and where they were heading to. Their reason for visiting Badakhshan to buy out furs in this winter was a little bit suspicious to inspectors, especially when Afghanistan was not a regular place.
Afghanistan was a highly disputed area where its government force, Taliban, and IS were conflicting with each other, and it would not make sense if merchants were willing to go there just to make money.
Thankfully, Badakhshan, where Youngho was heading to, was not related to Taliban or IS, but it was a region that one should be cautious to travel too.
“The camp is strictly guarded, but it looks like they don’t come outside of their fence in this cold. Let’s climb the barbed wire over there.”
There was a dispatched camp of the Chinese force in the border area of Afghanistan, so the two were there to attempt stealing some weapons from the force.
“Wait. I think I saw a watchdog over there.”
“That dog must have gone home in this cold.”
It was early evening and the temperature had dropped to negative 2.2 degrees in Fahrenheit. There was no one walking around the camp. So, the two decided to go inside the camp now instead of going in at night.
“Seems like the camp is bigger than a company-size.”
“But it’s not a large size yet. I guess the Chinese military has a different camp-size system.”
“I could use night vision goggles now. You think they’d have such expensive devices?”
China was a country of great economic power, but its force was not so rich to provide good devices to unimportant remote military camps. Although it had boasted of modernization of military force, it meant that they were focusing on reinforcing Navy’s and Air Force’s missiles for armored units and missile units. However, since the camp was located in a disputed area, Youngho expected to find equipment with high mobility.
The two jumped over the barbed-wire fence with ease and quickly moved near to where warehouse units were located. They moved roughly, but no one noticed their movements because of the loud noise of a power plant. The camp was relying on a power plant since it was located in a remote area.
There would not be many people who decided to come to a camp that was surrounded by many guard posts and barbed-wire fence in the biting cold. As they were moving around calmly, Youngho heard a growling sound. Youngho’s sharp hearing had detected the small sound.
They did not expect any watchdog to roam around, but it was lucky that the dog was not barking yet. If it was raised as guard dogs, it would have been barking already but it did not seem like it was raised for that purpose.
Jong-il jumped to the dog swiftly and strangled its neck. It was to knock it cold for a while. The dog might be fast, but it was not faster than Jong-il who was wearing leather shoes. It was, in fact, stunned to see Jong-il who approached it so quickly.
After the dog was taken care of, the two searched a few warehouse units but they could not find any individual firearm. There were not even grenades or ammunition around. It seemed that all of the individual weapons were located inside the barracks.
The units were filled with groceries and oil drums. Since it was too cold outside, the oils were stored inside the units. Near the warehouse units, armored vehicles, trucks, and towed howitzers were parked in the open, under a roof.
There was nothing that they could take. It seemed that the two had come for nothing.
“We can’t just leave like this. All of these will be used against Uyghur independence fighters.”
After murmuring, Jong-il suddenly opened a top of an oil drum and poured out the oil around the warehouse. He was going to make fire. It did not matter whether the Chinese force would find out about who did this. If they figured out that it was done by intruders, Uyghur independence fighters around the border area might get in trouble, but they were already fighting against each other anyway.
If their conflict was intensified by this, then the whole of Central Asia would unify and criticize China. Then, China would fall out from the nations of Central Asia, and if those countries turned against China and became hostile toward it, the CIA would be glad for that.
“Man, the flame is so bright. I love it.”
It was an amazing sight to see an oil drum soaring to the sky on fire. It felt like they could feel the heat which was two kilometers away from the camp.
“Their armed vehicles are certainly ruined by that, right?”
Since the warehouse units were built so closely with each other, no devices and equipment would be safe from the oil fire. They had experienced this in Armenia, but military camps tended to be careless about storing oil. It was not understandable since enemies could make fire. They must be storing oil close to equipment for convenient refueling. Because of this, any fueling system in Arirang Farm was built far away from the towns and warehouse units and the gas tanks were all built underground.
“It’s their fault for not taking care of oil more tightly. Since they’re too loose, they can’t stop intruders like us.”
“Man, the person who’s in charge of the camp and who’s responsible for managing oil will be in so much trouble.”
The two were the ones responsible for the fire, but they were concerned about others.
As the night deepened, the temperature fell below negative thirteen degrees in Fahrenheit.
Although the two covered themselves in their sleeping bag, they felt the cold to the bone. In front of mother nature, the ring’s mystical powers were no help. It was only tolerable after they activated hand warmers and put them in each of their sleeping bags.
“I still don’t know if this will be worth it.”
“We need to at least check if our men are alive. We can’t just leave them when they are out of contact.”
“I think they raised their caution even more. I just want to check if they’re still alive and return to Almaty and get into a hot sauna.”
It was a night that a hot spa was desperately needed. Youngho admired the independence fighters that volunteered to go into the mountains in this coldness. A sense of duty could make people do supernatural things.
In the morning, the two would have to cross the border and find the independence fighter group, Turkestan Islamic Party. Allegedly, the group did not use satellite phones in fear of exposure. The only way to contact them was to let them know of their location through reflector signals. This was the way mountainous guerrilla units frequently used, since World War I. It was exposing one party’s location to the other by reflecting the sunlight with a piece of mirror in certain patterns. If their signals match, the other party would accept another as their own ally.
The descendants of the Serbian Kingdom, who lived in mountainous areas, also had a similar way of contacting each other, except that they used whistles to signal to each other. Since whistles could be used regardless of the weather, it was a more advanced way of communication. If whistles were blown to the direction of the wind, the sounds could even travel a few kilometers. It seemed that the powerless side had developed more innovative ways to survive.
Although the two traveled on rough mountainous paths, they did it with ease since they were wearing the mystical leather shoes. As they ran fast, their faces were cold but they had no other difficulties.
After searching for the whole day, they could meet with the independence fighters of the Islamic Party. Fortunately, the former Serbian militiamen were safe and alive. They cried at the sight of Youngho. It would not have been easy to go on, missing their hometown and families, without a promise of when they would return home. They did not have hope to return home and considered themselves as forgotten, but as the prince consort came to see if they were alive, they were deeply touched by it. Since they had been suffering from the Chinese force and sleeping in the open in the severe coldness, Youngho’s visit was even more impressive to them.
Youngho took everyone by hand and comforted them. It was Youngho who sent them to pay for their wrongdoings in the past, but looking at their deserted life now broke his heart. He shared them the news of their families and took a group picture so that he could give it to their families when he returned to the farm.
The Islamic Party that had their base in Afghanistan planned to leave Badakhshan and move their hideout to a region of Xinjiang Uyghur in the spring. It seemed that the group was prepared and it was ready to get back to their fight for freedom. Youngho and Jong-il had to leave soon as they promised to meet the Serbian militiamen in Xinjiang, in the spring. They could not stay longer because the Chinese force had begun their strike again.
Youngho and Jong-il were reluctant to leave without doing anything, so they were glad that the Chinese force had begun their action again. They decided to lure the force toward their location in order to make time for the Islamic Party so that they could get to their third place safely.
In the mountainous area, there was no one who could stop the two people who kept appearing and disappearing in different directions. As they had mobility as fast as the wind, they did not even need rifles to knock down the Chinese soldiers. Ever since that day, the Chinese force could not forget the day when they saw ghostly figures who had knocked them down as if they were possessed by ghosts.