75 Chapter Seventy Four - Green stands for Danger

    Possibly the first question within the five soldiers minds were not about accommodation nor when were they going to learn how to increase their abilities, but actually; why was the inside of this base so green?!

    The wall appeared thick and tall, perhaps not as great as their own, but there was a feeling of security from it being there... were it not for the Ivy vines creeping up its height at one side of the metal gate.  Then there was the lightly trimmed grass upon the verges either side of the road, even weeds peeking out of the pothole forming to one side.  Trees, thick hedges, even multicoloured tulips, these were all in the space of a few metres from their location and all were exposed to the elements.  Were the people of this base not dicing with death?

    It was the loud and opinionated Thomas who was the one to speak the words they all thought aloud; \"Shit, are you people crazy?  Why the ** have you let the plants grow wild in here?\"

    Glances were exchanged and Dexter scratched at his temple before realising something.  \"I guess we forgot to warn you about this.  Our policies are a bit different than the ones at your base.  Here, we don't cut plants or trees down willy nilly.  Not that you lot are wrong to clear your base of plants, mutant species can be **ers, but that wouldn't work here.\"

    \"Why not?\" Luke asked.

    \"The landlord wouldn't like it!\" Eraj chuckled, recalling how Nathan had first been introduced to them when they arrived at this hidden haven late last summer.

    The five soldiers naturally didn't get the jest and their initial reaction was to assume these people had gone nuts during the days following the apocalypse.  It's not like there weren't a few of those on base, just that they hadn't caused any serious disturbances, so they were left alone.  But, reconsidering it, if they truly were mentally challenged in any way shape or form, how had they survived so long and so well up until now?  They were clearly well nourished, strong and determined, from what they had witnessed so far, so they obviously had access to plentiful food over the winter.  The clothes they wore seemed clean and food wasn't the only necessary resource for survival, so they apparently also had a good water source as well.  So, it wasn't just luck that had seen them through these days.  The only thing they could do was to wait and see what the hell was up with this place.

    Dexter guided them, not to their living space, but to the second mansion on their land.  He'd decided this right from the beginning for them to stay in there rather than crowd their own home further.  For one thing, although there were a couple of bedrooms free, accepting strangers in their home now was not something he thought any of them would be comfortable with.  They weren't going to be staying that long either, the barrier between them and us wasn't going to disintegrate in that time, better to give them their own space for the time being.  Plus he wasn't sure just how Nathan would cope with the new faces so suddenly in their midst.  He'd have to see them eventually, but better to introduce the idea slowly...

    He never thought he wouldn't have the chance of that.


    Nathan's head was not clear and his body was reacting strangely, he did not like it.  When his body first reacted in such a manner at the tender age of fourteen, he'd not reacted well at that time either.  It had taken Nanny several hours to coax him from his bedroom to find out the situation from him.  In her usual calm and collect manner, she had explained that this was a normal thing for a teenaged boy to experience.  That he might find his lower body become stiff at other times, not just in the mornings.  After factually speaking about sex, for the old woman had long since discovered that so long as certain subjects were spoken of in a scientific way rather than an emotional one, her charge was much more adaptive to new ideas, she had suggested cool showers as a manner to allow his body to return to a non-sexualised state.

    At the time, he'd managed to calm, though he still worried for a little while about this bodily function that seemed to have nothing to do with him, but as the cool showers helped and the phenomenon only occurred a few times and only in the morning, he felt as if normality had been resumed.

    However, the old woman had discussed with him sex between a man and a woman and that his penis needed to be stiff to engage in the act of making children.  She never once mentioned what would be the meaning of his body reacting to the man he liked.  So he could only assume that there was something wrong with his body and deal with it in the only manner he knew how.

    So the distressed youth really wasn't prepared to deal with newcomers, stopping dead along the path as they came into view.  They stared at him, he felt their eyes upon his body even as he broke the fleeting eye contact between them and he shuffled from side to side, uncomfortable and unsure what to do.  Dexter did happen to be with them, that person Nathan had become more used to, but although he was kind, his voice was still quite loud at times as could be the lightning that shot from his hands and struck things.

    \"Ah Nathan,\" Dexter called out the moment he saw him.  \"No Ren?\"  Nathan didn't know what to say, his heart suddenly felt sore.  He'd ran away from Ren Zexian hadn't he, but to go back now... couldn't go forward either...

    Before he fell into panic, the sound of leaves rustling caught his attention.  The thick flora along the pathway seemed to bend and even move to one side forming a new pathway off to the side.  Honeysuckle unwound from a wire pyramid and beckoned him to take the pathway and he did not hesitate to do so, fleeing into the shrubs and flowers from the soldiers' views.  The path quickly closed behind him.

    The soldiers stood stunned for a moment before Thomas angrily turned to see Dexter shaking his head with a sigh.  \"You didn't stop him?!\" The man accused, thinking the worst of the plants before him.  Shit, it seemed they even had to be wary of normal looking plants now!  That poor kid..!

    \"What for?\" Dexter questioned, before realisation hit him and he rolled his eyes.  \"Ah, well, how do I explain this.  Those plants didn't move for any nefarious reasons.  They moved 'cos Nathan wanted them to.  He's got some connection to plants.\"

    \"Plant abilities?\" The soldiers exchanged confused glances.  It wasn't that there weren't others with plant abilities, but those ranged from sprouting seeds to use as one time weapons; traps, obstacles, that kind of thing or speeding up growth of plants.  But with the former, the plant died immediately after the seed was used and there was a danger of the same when speeding up the growth of a plant too much.  After all, a flowering season for a vegetable plant was only so long, speeding up its life cycle simply shortened this so there was a chance for much less food to be grown, fruits didn't grow as well or as decent a size, even if it was all quicker to produce.

    \"Is this the result of his training?\" Luke asked, his anticipation once more growing.

    \"Nathan's abilities have improved due to training,\" a new voice broke into the conversation and the five soldiers looked up to see an oriental man with an extremely calm and soothing expression upon his amicable face.  His hair was grown long, just as Chang Min, but his way of dressing was unusual.  None of these men and woman had seen a man wear an ancient style Hanfu outside of a television set, yet he somehow did not seem out of place wearing it in front of them.  \"However,\" The man continued without a trace of accent, \"Nathan's connection to the plants could be considered unique as well.  Even this humble man does not have the answers to every question in the known world.\"

    \"Master!\" Chang Min stepped forward from behind the soldiers to greet the man before them, enlightening them and confusing them at the same time.  This man was Chang Min's Master?  How was that possible?  He didn't look any older than Chang Min!?

    \"Chang Min,\" The man greeted in return with a warmed smile.

    \"Master, we brought back the egg laying hens,\" Chang Min informed him.  \"However, this was in part in exchange for teaching five people from the base how to better their abilities.  As this is the case, it would be better for them to learn from you rather than me.\"

    Ren Zexian's slender brows rose in question.  \"You attempted to teach them before?\"

    Chang Min looked slightly sheepish.  In their old world, he was still a student and a child in his elders' eyes, not ready to teach others.  \"I only suggested a generic form of cultivation, Master, I would never impart knowledge I did not fully understand.\"

    \"It is good that you know,\" Ren Zexian did not chide him.  In truth, he knew Chang Min wouldn't have done anything to jeopardise their lives.  A life taken was not a life that could return and one with regrets or grievances might not even make it into the reincarnation cycle at all.

    Thomas Lutz stood watching these two men as if they were performing a play and his cynicism increased a fold.  Thinking of that ridiculous form of meditation that Chang Min had once tried to convince him to perform, he realised that the man's 'Master' would likely try force him to learn something similar.  Fuck, he really wanted to head back to base and forget about this farce.

    \"Come on,\" Dexter drew their attention to himself.  \"We cleaned up the place last year after the zombies broke out... ah but we could only replace the glass with boards and it might be a bit dusty in there now.  We'll leave that up to you to deal with.  There are beds upstairs, but we took all the bedding... we can bring some back with the mops and buckets... though I understand you have sleeping bags?\"

    Naturally each soldier brought with him and her some essentials such as sleeping bags, some bottles of water, toothbrushes and Faith had a small bar of soap she'd managed to save up enough points for.  They honestly hadn't expected to gain actual beds to sleep in when coming to this base.

    \"This place only had an electric cooker, but we're not assholes, I'll talk to the others about arranging meals for you guys.  In the meantime, I'll leave you lot to Chang and Ren.\"  The five turned automatically towards their new teachers, who lead them into the mansion house.
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