To common people, generators were money-consuming. In a matter of one week, accompanied by the rumbling noises, more than one million had been spent on diesel, which had been stored as energy on Mr. Rolin's base. At the dusk of the weekend, when Huang Xuan had paid another ¥200,000 into the site's account, Rolin's flat voice rose again as if coming from the remote mountains: "Huang Xuan, are you interested in visiting the base?"
"Is it an invitation?"
"Sure," Rolin answered flatly as if wind came out of an air-conditioner.
In fact, in the past week, Huang Xuan had been worried that the nearly omnipotent Rolin had heard his conversation with his mom. Although that was his intent at the time, he couldn't help worrying.
Huang Xuan was at an age full of optimism, just like a senior's life filled with prudence and cheer. With little suspicion, Huang Xuan smiled toward the air and said: "How do I come to your base? By teleportation or opening the pool again?
"I have moved the base to the foot of the mountain. It isn't safe anymore here."
In contrast to Rolin's flatness, Huang Xuan was astonished. He looked around and asked: "You have moved the base away? When?"
"When there were 50,000 kWh of electricity in the base."
Huang Xuan was too shocked to speak. He felt he had lost the biggest restraint on Rolin. At this point, Rolin once again offered the invitation. "Would you like to come?"
"Yes. Yes," Rolin answered twice in a row and added: "But how?"
"You can pick a permanent teleportation spot in your house. I will connect it to the base to make it easier for you to visit the base."
Huang Xuan asked again curiously: "You mean I can visit the base in the future?"
"Certainly, you already have the 24-level authority."
Huang Xuan felt flattered by Rolin's answer. Touching his forehead, he asked: "What is the 24-level authority? What kind of authority did I have before? How do I improve my authority?"
Facing the three questions thrown by Huang Xuan, Rolin remained calm. "The authority you had before was examiner, which is the lowest level. Because of your contributions to the base's safety, the base decided to confer you the 24-level authority, with which you can come and go freely in non-examination areas and make more contributions to the base."
Huang Xuan was not sure how to react. He opened his mouth but said nothing. Looking around, he said: "How about setting the teleportation spot in the pavilion? Will anybody get into the base by accident?"
"Of course not, only authorized people can get into the base."
Instantaneously, with a flash across the pavilion, when Huang Xuan opened his eyes again, he was in a lively room of tens of square meters, composed of two rectangles. Its dominant hue was light blue, mixed with light green and light yellow, making up diverse patterns.
On one wall was hanging a huge-sized calligraphy and painting which was more than 6 meters. The name was written so hastily and illegibly that Huang Xuan couldn't read it. The painting made the room feel human because only humans could have decorated it this way.
Huang Xuan walked slowly around the room and couldn't help asking: "Where's the owner?"
"He has gone back to the dominant plane to resist the shock of space and time, because of which the dominant plane becomes shorthanded and leaves this place abandoned," Rolin said in his usual voice.
"What about you?"
"Protecting the base, seeking opportunities to develop and waiting for orders."
Huang Xuan touched his nose and asked: "When did that happen?"
Rolin was silent for a while, then his typical flat voice was heard in the air: "One hundred thousand years ago in standard time zone."
This was the first time Rolin had given an inaccurate answer. However, things happened one hundred thousand years ago could hardly arouse sympathy. Huang Xuan stretched his lips and said with a smile: "So, has it been a long time since the last time someone came here?" Then he added excitedly: "Is my authority the highest?"
"Guardians of space and time have the highest authority. Yours is the second highest," Rolin answered seriously, "But because it is a 24-level authority, you can enter F area only."
"What is F area?"
"It contains the dining area, the entertaining area, bedrooms and the hallway."
Hearing this, Huang Xuan's eyes were wide open. "That's it?"
Ignoring the look in his eyes, Rolin continued: "Since the dining area and the entertaining area are abandoned, and the 24-level authority are not allowed to enter closed areas, the areas you can enter are bedrooms and the hallway."
Huang Xuan felt a great compulsion to give him a heavy blow. "Bedrooms and the hallway. What is there to see?!" he thought unhappily. "Maybe when combined, they are not as big as my house." Looking at the furniture, he saw nothing but the seats floating in the air. Not even a bed could be found. He asked sulkily: "What did you take me here for?"
"You asked for a second plane travel, didn't you?"
"Yes." Huang Xuan's eyes showed excitement. He said: "Are we ready to go?"
Rolin said: "Only if you are healthy enough can you have a second plane travel, so I need you to have a check-up and be vaccinated.
"So complicated," Huang Xuan complained. Then he said: "Hurry up."
While he was speaking, Huang Xuan floated slowly toward a wall. Before he had the time to shout, he was already banging on the wall, then again and again, until he got dizzy. When it stopped, he realized something had happened.
The color of the room remained the same, but Huang Xuan had been put into a transparent ceramic jar, through which only the relief on the ceiling could be seen.
"What happened?" Huang Xuan wriggled about uneasily.
"A medical check-up and vaccination involve the treatment of the diseases above C level since T1800." Hearing Rolin's voice, Huang Xuan was more or less relieved. Then he felt coolness and numbness on his arms, legs, and butt. He gasped, clenched his teeth and said: "Rolin, did anybody tell you that vaccines are supposed to be given separately?"
"No," Rolin answered in his typical style.
During the vaccination, Rolin continued with Huang Xuan's check-up reports which were all registered with dull English letters. Looking outside through the semi-transparent black outside wall of the jar, Huang Xuan waited in boredom for the end.
"According to the report, you are fit to have the travel. Do you still want to go?" Rolin's voice sounded muffled when it came down through the jar. Huang Xuan covered his ears for a bit. He was on the verge of saying yes when he stopped and said: "Wait. I must be well prepared this time. I need time to consider where to go and what to take with me."
"I am not sure I can teleport you to the precise space and time you choose because there isn't enough information on the planes' state. Therefore, preparation is basically pointless."
Huang Xuan was doubtful. He said: "What if you send me to pre-historic times?"
"Currently, I can only send you to the times within one hundred years from nowadays."
Huang Xuan extended his hands resignedly and said sarcastically: "You mean you can't even if you want to send me farther?"
"If the target space and time are after T1900, but the target plane is still in pre-historic times, there is a chance that you would go into prehistoric times but it is rare. For the time being, I can only send you to plane P1."
"What is plane P1?" Huang Xuan felt he had heard this strange noun more often than he had tests.
"Planes P1 are defined by the standard plane of plane P. They lie between regular planes and the irregular ones. Their historic elements are similar to those of standard planes. They haven't suffered from invasion or plane colonization⎼"
"I see." Huang Xuan interrupted him impatiently. "Does that mean there is no difference in what time I choose to travel?"
"Then how do I exchange stuff? I mean, what kind of currency am I supposed to choose to use? Should I take gold directly?
"If you want to carry equivalents, grains are a better choice," Rolin explained. "During a plane travel, fresh living matters consume the least energy, which was one million times less than non-living matters. Hence, when traveling to an unknown plane, living matters like grains are usually chosen to carry as equivalents."
Huang Xuan blinked and said: "A gram of gold can buy hundreds of grains. How many grains am I supposed to carry? And how do I sell them?"
Rolin answered mechanically: "During a plane travel, the shorter a matter's shelf life is, the less energy it consumes. Thus, living matters usually consume less energy, and paper less than metal. If we are going to have a plane travel on this base, gold will consume one hundred trillion times more energy than grains, which is beyond the energy storage of the base."
Huang Xuan said resignedly: "How many grains can I take?"
"According to the current energy storage, 100 tons is within the safe range."
Huang Xuan stroked his skin which had been filled with vaccines and said: "I am off to buy grains."