Chapter 54: A+A (II)
“Sir, we have successfully linked to Via City’s signal station, but the signal is extremely unstable and we can only monitor the scene on a very irregular basis, to briefly transmit a code.” A liaison reported.
In front of the control panel, a man stood ramrod straight in military uniform and stared at the screen without blinking. The features of his handsome face was very distinct. His was only about thirty and the gold star and badge on his shoulder showed his rank as a brigadier general.
On the screen were twenty-four different scenes, taken at various angles from the cameras. The scenes would occasionally show static and rippling due to the bad signal.
“Eh? Who is the second lieutenant wearing the commander ring right now?” A captain asked, standing by the brigadier general and staring at one of the videos, utterly bewildered by the sight.
Within the video, a young second lieutenant was commanding the soldiers to oppose the arthropods. His expression was full of unwavering determination and a bit of dust. His eyes were bright and sharp while his right hand wore the commander ring that shone in the filthy battlefield.
The commander ring was assigned to the battle commander during conflicts. It was used to ascertain their identity, issue a signal order and act as a notice to prevent soldiers from falling into confusion due to being unable to find their commander.
After Via City was surrounded, the deployment charts of the army units, reserves, heavy weaponry and commanding officers appeared at the military department table. Brigadier General Rhine Lancelot was the chief commander in charge of support this time. He was well aware of the basic situation within Via City. He stared at the Shang Ke within the video and spoke, “He is a graduating student of Royal Military University, Filmore. He was dispatched to Via City for this time’s inspection mission.”
“What? A graduate?” Captain Lin Jie had a face of disbelief, “How could they give the commander role to a graduate who doesn’t have any battle experience?”
Rhine did not reply. Instead, he ordered the liaison to quickly establish a connection with Via City.
Half an hour later, the liaison reported, “Reporting to sir, we have just received news. The superior officers have almost all died in battle. Only one captain remains but he is seriously injured and unable to act. Over nineteen thousand soldiers have died. The current person in charge of commanding is the second lieutenant Filmore.”
“Over nineteen thousand soldiers have died in only three days, while almost all of the superior officers have died in battle?” Lin Jie and the others were all shocked, “That’s impossible!”
Rhine stared at the monitor for a long time, then spoke, “The information was flawed, the invasion of the arthropods this time is not from the beetles, but variants.”
The variants and the beetles look very similar, it was hard to tell them apart with just the naked eye. What was different between them was that the female variants could produce small, venomous spawn from their backs. Their jumping power was strong, their movement speed fast and their limbs were sharp. They could rip apart skin in moments and skewer the human body while releasing a nerve paralysis poison to keep their target still.
What was even more frightening was that it only took the variants three hours to reproduce the venomous spawn. In other words, every three hours, it was possible that there would be a poisonous-young group attack.
Among the millions of variants, even if only a third of them are female, the numbers of young they could produce was still frightfully large.
Rhine had only just spoken when those watching the film spotted countless, fist-sized venomous spawn shooting out from the sea of bugs. They crossed over the defensive wall and smashed into the interior of Via City like hail.
The soldiers raised the light shield and heard the pitter-patter striking sounds as countless venomous spawn rushed into the interior of the defensive line and started to fight in close range with the soldiers. In a situation where equipment and emergency measures were all prepared, withstanding their attacks would not be a problem. But in another two to three days where their weapons become worn down, their situation would alter dramatically. They have to kill as many bugs as they could before the soldiers lose their fighting strength.
“Sir, be careful!” Just while he was in the midst of thinking, a venom spawn suddenly jumped out from the side and headed for Shang Ke’s throat. The two soldiers not too far from him paled at the sight. They were just about to jump in and save him when they saw Shang Ke move backward half a step and the venomous spawn missed by his throat by five centimeters. Soon after, a dagger flew out and firmly nailed it to the wall.
The soldiers were dumbstruck. The flying dagger skill had thoroughly stunned them. In the time Filmore spent at Via City, he had consistently displayed average skills. The soldier’s impression of him was still at “handsome-appearance, extravagant-spender, a-young-master-that-did-not-know-the-difficulties-of-the-world.” But now that they saw his skills, they couldn’t help but change their opinion.
Shang Ke’s strengthened Intermediate Martial Arts would not be a surprising sight in the cultivation world where experts were everything. But in this world that mainly relied on technology and science, it was a very uncommon thing. This was also the only skill he could count on right now that would impact his survival chances during this battle.
“Yo, this little second lieutenant’s skill is pretty good.” Lin Jie whistled at the scene from the video. In those two to three seconds, Shang Ke had only moved half a step and swung his arm and easily solved a crisis, showcasing his exceptional reaction speed and ability to adapt.
Lin Jie took out Filmore’s school file and skimmed over it. He frowned, “His comprehensive grade from school is actually this bad?”
Rhine had also read that file beforehand, so he did not say anything.
“Brigadier General, do you think he is able to undertake such heavy responsibility? Should we suggest to their senior officer to choose another commander?”
“Changing the commander just before battle is not proper.” Rhine’s gaze was deep as he paid serious attention to every move made by Shang Ke.
Lin Jie no longer spoke. As a matter of fact, the outside world no longer held any hope for Via City, stuck in the middle of the arthropod sandstorm as they were. The fighters in the city were preordained to die in this battle. Their sacrifice would save hundreds of thousands of lives and become a decisive battle in the overall war.
The only thing the onlookers could do was record the battle so that it may be used as evidence to confer to them titles as martyrs.
As the wave of venomous spawn continued, as did the arthropods, knowing nothing of exhaustion or failing resources. They would only rest and reorganize for three hours between day and night. The soldiers would also have the chance to rest and catch their breath during this period.
Shang Ke ordered someone to take an inventory of what was left in reserve. The speed of weapon usage was greater than he anticipated. Supplies would only last around five more days. Although he had known earlier that this would be a long and difficult battle, the real situation still made his mood somewhat heavy.
The first day passed, one thousand two hundred soldiers died in battle.
The second day passed, two thousand three hundred and seventy-five soldiers died in battle.
The third day passed, the fourth day… the total number of soldiers that have died already reached twenty thousand. It was only going up by leaps and bounds every day.
This was the first time Shang Ke had experienced such a tragic and realistic war as he watched the soldiers collapse one by one. The survivors didn’t even have the chance to arrange the remains of the dead. The floor was littered with ruined limbs and bleeding corpses. The coppery scent of blood and the sickly sweet odor of rot filled his nose.
The soldier’s spirits were devastated and their faces read only despair. Their expressions were empty, soulless.
On the fifth day, the weapon warehouse was pretty much empty. The soldiers’ guns were empty of bullets and their uniforms were torn to rags as they confronted the wave after wave of bugs outside the defensive line. All they knew was carnage and their faces had long since turned to stone, each breathing in death as they fought endlessly.
The people watching the screens could all feel the vivid despair and powerlessness.
Had they reached their limit?
A fresh attack of venomous spawn came at them again, the rain of black bugs like a storm pouring down. The soldiers raised their heads to the dusty sky, the tiny black dots normalized after the nonstop battle. They were all physically overstimulated. From reaction speed to movement, the soldiers were sluggish and hopeless. For a moment, very few moved at all.
“What are you guys doing standing around!” An angry shout broke the deathly stillness and they could see speaker figure jumping high, the light of his blade flickering as he slashed venom spawns into two. Large amounts of green mucus splashed into the air as he did so.
Shang Ke’s figure flipped and he firmly landed on his feet, his long sword sweeping as he roared, “Without a gun or artillery shell, you guys don’t know how to use a sword or pike?”
While he spoke, he killed four to five more venom spawns. His efficiency was actually higher than when he used a gun.
However, most of the soldiers had already lost their will to fight. They resisted half-heartedly at best before letting the venomous spawn rip them apart.
Shang Ke did not fear death, but he wanted to live more than anyone else. Even if everyone else gave up hope, he would not. Not only for the mission, but for him.
Shang Ke flashed under the attack of the venomous spawn, his long sword moving as a dancer would as he displayed the very peak of his martial arts ability. He wholeheartedly threw himself into battle. His face and body were dirtied with green mucus, the buttons of his uniform had all fallen off so the fabric moved and flipped with his movements. The sharp longsword shone gold under the evening light. The glint of the commander ring on his finger was like the eye of the brave, coldly and fearlessly watching over the bloody world.
The bodies of bugs piled up on the ground, red human blood and limpid green beetle mucus mixed together to form a painfully intense contrast that burned everyone’s eyes.
The hearts of the soldiers acted like they had received a boost of electricity and their will to fight that had already burnt out once had been lit aflame. One after another, they raised their weapons and roared, joining the battle…
The battle lasted two hours. When the sun and moon exchanged places, the arthropods temporarily retreated, leaving the fighters about three hours of time to rest.
Shang Ke leaned against the wall, his head drooping. Beads of sweat mixed with mucus slowly dripped down onto the sword he had placed horizontally across his legs.
“Sir, eat something.” A soldier arrived before Shang Ke with some nutrient fluid. Seeing the injuries between the web of his thumb and forefinger, and his hands covered with blood, admiration shone in the soldier’s eyes.
“Thank you.” Shang Ke took the nutrient fluid but did not immediately drink it. Rather, he silently observed his surroundings. Although the scenery was still tragic, the soldiers were a bit more lively than before. They had, after all, used normal weapons to successfully withstand the venomous spawn’s attack, earning a great victory.
Shang Ke replenished his strength a bit then shouted for a platoon captain, ordering them to start utilizing hypnosis shells on the bugs two hours later when the battle would restart.
The platoon captain was amazed, “We still have hypnosis shells?”
“There are only fifteen.” Shang Ke replied, “They don’t have much of an effect on them during the battle, but now they are tired, using it would lengthen their dormant time.”
This was the last of their ammunition, Shang Ke had specifically left it for crucial points.
The platoon captain immediately went to the warehouses to get the shell once he was given the order.
Two hours later, fifteen hypnosis shells were shot off. The white fog slowly rose and quickly covered the bugs.
As Shang Ke expected, using the hypnosis shells now postponed the bug’s attack and also gave extra time to the soldiers for rest.
There were forty thousand soldiers left. Their ammunition were entirely used up with the three fighter air-crafts. Their defensive wall was in an unusable state as well. They had to last another six days while relying on purely close combat weapons.
Shang Ke turned his head to look at the deep darkness outside the defense wall. A gentle light floated in the air, giving his eyes the touch of a golden halo. The bloodstains and mucus he hadn’t washed off made turned his fair face to that of a night spirit who had just experienced the fires of war.
This scene was caught by an invisible electronic eye and sent to another camp several hundred miles away.
Rhine sat within the commander’s room. Through the video, he stared into those beautiful eyes. The battle at dusk replayed itself in his mind. The brave way the young second lieutenant fought and his graceful and flexible martial aroused his will to fight in moments.
If he could, he wished that this man could survive.
At that moment, the young second lieutenant in the video moved. He got up and passed by a couple of other electronic eyes then entered the commander room. Rhine could not see the situation inside. He was very curious, had this young second lieutenant thought up a new strategy for dealing with the situation?
On the sixth day, the battle continued.
Shang Ke took the lead like always. Holding his long sword, he killed everything in his way.
Without any firearms, using only cold steel weaponry and martial arts to fight the arthropods was no doubt a great test of the soldier’s strength and perseverance.
Very soon, there were soldiers who couldn’t hold on anymore. Their breathing became heavy and sweat poured off them. Their vision was hindered by a white fog and they could barely stand upright anymore.
One soldier fell down, then a second, third and fourth one followed… it was like an infection.
Forget it, why are they working hard? The only thing awaiting them was death anyway. The soldier’s expressions were dim as the negative thoughts once again bubbled up.
Right at that moment, a huge amount of mucus splashed onto the soldier’s faces. In their hazy view, a tall and straight figure was still fighting the bugs with a fierce determination.
It was second lieutenant Filmore, their commander.
He hasn’t fallen yet, he was still persevering.
One hour, two hours… five hours… While other soldiers took turns fighting, only their commander did not rest.
After several hours of nonstop fighting, they could tell that their acting commander was extremely tired. His movements became slower and the intervals between fights grew longer and longer until finally, even his footsteps became unsteady.
However, he still hadn’t given up. He was still fighting.
The eyes of the soldiers grew hot as a surge of bravery ran through them.
“Sir, let us fight!” One of the soldiers couldn’t help but yell, “Please rest for a bit!”
“Yes! Leave it to us!” Other soldiers began to pitch in loudly as well.
Shang Ke wiped the blood from his mouth and smiled, “Are you guys sure you guys can hold down the fort?”
“Of course!” The soldiers roared together.
“Haha, alright.” Shang Ke stabbed a bug to death with a flip of his hand, then pointed a finger at the soldiers. “I will give you lot thirty minutes to settle the bugs in this area.”
“Yes!” The soldier’s battle spirits raged and they raised their weapons, howling as they charged the group of bugs.
Thirty minutes later, Shang Ke joined the fighting group again and the soldiers once again became bolder and more powerful. The presence of an alpha would usually be rejected by another, but not Shang Ke’s. His was a hormone that stimulated the soldier’s spirit and made them shine like it was their second spring, their blood racing.
As long as their commander doesn’t fall, no matter how tired they were, they would still grit their teeth and persevere.
This young second lieutenant was their pillar and will now, as well as their hope for survival.
The people outside all believed that the Via City soldiers would not be able to hold on due to the lack of weapons and equipment. But still, they relied on will and stubbornly preserved until the seventh day.
And on that day, the command unit finally had good news to report to Shang Ke. They had found the Queen.