Hearing the order to set up camp, everyone seemed to have a heavy weight lifted off their shoulders. Thinking back to their excitement when they had first left, their moods had taken such a complete 180-degree turn despite that less than half a day had passed, going from extreme excitement to complete dread.
Nabari chose the spot to set up camp. Even though they said that there wasn't much difference no matter where they chose to set up camp in the desert, whether it would be comfortable and safe was up to the capabilities of their guide.
Nabari chose a tall sand dune's flatter surface, away from the wind, to set up camp, which was the sand dune that Car 10 was stuck on.
With the location chosen, everyone started getting busy.
Setting up camp was more of Peter Lee's team's thing. With how often they went to all sorts of archaeological and natural spots to experience the…purest energy in the universe, they had a lot more experience in outdoor camping.
On the other hand, the expedition team was made up of mostly rookies, other than Wei Kang with his personal outdoor expedition experiences. Most of them had never actually set up a tent.
When Peter Lee's team saw that Wei Kang's team was too inefficient, they quickly came over and helped them set up their tents. Other than their more extreme thinking, these people were pretty helpful. As long as one didn't step on their bottom line, everything could be negotiated.
They had brought tents of all kinds of sizes—single, twin, three- and four-person-sized tents. Most tents were twin and three-person tents. Only Zhang Zian had insisted on bringing a four-person tent in order to take care of the elfins.
After simple discussion, it was decided that He He and the female Detective would share one twin tent and set it up right in the middle of their camp so they would be surrounded by the others.
The 13 jeeps were parked in the periphery of their tents, surrounding the tents in an oval shape, along with the tall sand dune. They left a route in and out of the tents at each end, one for males and one for females to relieve themselves at night should they need to.
Peter Lee and Wei Kang solemnly announced their rules—other than going to relieve themselves, no one was allowed to leave the internal circle of their camp, and the females had to go in pairs.
Next was their night patrol schedule. There was a total of 15 people on their team. Other than the two females who were exempt from night patrol, the other 13 males were going to take turns patrolling in two-hour shifts, according to their car sequence, until they finished their mission and left the desert.
The female Detective wanted to protest and join in the night patrol as well, and she didn't want to be protected by the men. But Wei Kang had spoken to her individually, mostly asking her to take care of He He, so that the spoiled child wouldn't go out and create trouble for all of them. Only then did she reluctantly agree.
By the time the tents were set up, the sun had gone down. There was only a splattering of light left coming up from the west, the sky full of stars slowly showing itself.
The temperature had taken a nosedive as well, letting them really experience the extreme difference in temperatures of the desert. They had still been drenched in sweat moment ago by the tents, and now they were all chilly from the breeze.
They were at most chilly now. Even the one most afraid of the cold, He He, merely had just one thin jacket on. But when they turned to look at Nabari and Salem, they actually had thick fur coats on, as though it was winter.
With the generations of Bedouins that had stayed in the hot and dry climate of the desert, their adaptation to its temperatures was extraordinary. Water was a precious resource in the desert. If they sweated as much as normal people in the heat, they probably couldn't make the desert their home. So they had evolved in some way, their bodies becoming used to the high heat.
Humans were warm-blooded animals, so they couldn't possibly get used to both the heat and the cold. When the temperature dropped, Nabari and Salem both felt the cold in their bones and needed to keep warm.
This was exactly what adaptation looked like.
In theory, with the tents ready and the night patrols set up, they could rest, right? Nope. Their next mission was to check the remaining fuel levels of the cars and the amount of food and water consumed, then report that amount to Peter Lee and Wei Kang. This was their job every day from now on too.
As Zhang Zian's tent was the tent in their base closest to the sand dunes, and due to its size, he took a long time setting it up. When he had finally set it up and taken stock of the amount of fuel and perishables left in his car, he brought all of his numbers to report to Wei Kang and Peter Lee.
He seemed to be the last one to report. Everyone else had already done so. Wei Kang's notebook before him showed that only Car 4's row was empty.
Wei Kang entered his numbers into the form. Excel would calculate the total fuel consumption of all of the cars, total remaining fuel, and average fuel consumption. It also gave them the number of days that their water and food would last.
Peter was there too, standing behind Wei Kang. When the both of them saw the numbers that showed up, they frowned.
"What is it?" Seeing that their expressions were weird, Zhang Zian asked about their concerns.
Wei Kang and Peter shared a look, speaking only after a moment's considerations. "Nothing much, but the fuel and water consumption is a bit faster than expected… But no worries, we considered overconsumption when preparing our materials, so there shouldn't be any problems."
To their team, water was the most important life resource, while fuel was their way of getting into and out of situations. These two things were the most important to have—even more important than food.
Zhang Zian's heart plummeted at that, and seeing that Wei Kang didn't disagree, he poked his head over to take a look at the spreadsheet too.
When his eyes skimmed over the column for average fuel consumption, he was rather surprised. If there was no mistake in the data, each car's average fuel consumption was up to 30 liters per kilometer!
Diesel jeeps were strong, hardy, and even more fuel-efficient than gasoline cars. Diesel had less smell when ignited, and it wasn't as easy to ignite, so they'd all used diesel vehicles when coming into the desert.
Even though they had all kinds of advantages, there was still an abnormal rate of fuel consumption.
Wei Kang had already analyzed this before Zhang Zian came. There might be three reasons for this. First, they had brought a lot of perishables and equipment, which increased their load. Second, the road conditions were extremely bad. Third, the air conditioning had been taking up too much fuel.
The second point was the lethal one.
Driving in the desert, the tires had to fight against the resistance. A quarter of the tire was submerged in sand at any point of time, so the fuel efficiency definitely wasn't going to be as good as when the car was on a freeway. Especially when they were passing sand dunes, the engine was pretty much gobbling up fuel.
Half of their journey today was on the dry, rocky lands too. Even though the conditions were bad there too, it was a great improvement compared to the desert and had lowered their average fuel consumption. If they were to keep driving in the desert every day from now on, they could definitely predict a huge increase in their fuel consumption.
The situation definitely wasn't as optimistic as Wei Kang said it was.