The First Order – Chapter 43

Of course, Ren Xiaosu had not dug up the termite nest because he wanted to eat them. He continued following the deer tracks and heard the sound of running water after just a few minutes.

The closer Ren Xiaosu got to the river, the warier he became. Although it was past the evening period when living creatures gathered to drink at the riverside, he still needed to be careful. If any of the wild animals arrived here late due to matters at home, Ren Xiaosu might just bump into them.

But to his relief, he was not that unlucky.

Ren Xiaosu unwrapped the leaf containing the piece of the termite nest and threw it into the river. As the current was not rapid at this time, he did not have to think of how to build a stone weir 1 in the river.

Right after, he used his bone knife to cut open the palm-sized termite queen and threw her into the river as well. Then he began to wait patiently while holding the sharpened branch.

The moonlight tonight was particularly bright. Otherwise, Ren Xiaosu would not have seen what was in the river.

As the termite queen and her nest drifted slowly downstream with the current, Ren Xiaosu followed it from the riverbank. All of a sudden, a silhouette appeared and swam under the floating termite nest. The surface of the water roiled, and a large fish appeared with its mouth wide open as it tried to swallow the termite queen and nest in one gulp.

But as it opened its mouth, Ren Xiaosu’s sharpened branch struck it!

Ren Xiaosu had previously used this method to catch fish as well. As his speed and strength were much worse at the time, it took him many tries before he succeeded in catching one.

However, that was the past. His movements used to be slower than a fish’s, but he had gotten much faster than them by now.

Ren Xiaosu retracted the branch with lightning speed, the large, black fish struggling nonstop on it to no avail. Ren Xiaosu cautiously moved away from the riverbank. It seemed that the blood of the black fish had attracted something bad. Below the river’s surface, a dense mass of silhouettes swarmed together.

Ren Xiaosu was a little puzzled. ‘Are these the silhouettes of fish?’ He immediately cut open the large, black fish on the shore and threw all of its internal organs back into the river. He could not bring the fish back to the campsite and slice it open there because that would leave a bloody scent around the campsite.

If cracker crumbs could attract a huge deer, who knew what the scent of blood could attract? Although there shouldn’t be any bears or the likes in the vicinity, there was no harm in being cautious. Moreover, the roasted fish meat and bones that were left over from a meal would have to be dumped as far away as possible.

A second later, a frenzy erupted in the river. Countless fish scrambled to feed on the bloody organs, and they were even biting one another.

Once a fish got bitten, it would immediately end up as food for the other fish.

What a brutal river. What would happen if a person had fallen in?

All of a sudden, Ren Xiaosu was stunned, because he noticed that all the fish had swam away in a hurry. Ren Xiaosu turned around and left without any hesitation. Anything that could frighten away such vicious fish was probably something that he should not mess with.

On the way back to the campsite, Ren Xiaosu kept thinking about what kinds of changes the current wilderness had gone through.

Why were the wild animals evolving, yet there didn’t seem to be any changes in humans?

No, there were some changes!

For example, there was Zhang Baogen, who had demonstrated his superpower to him. Or Yan Liuyuan and himself? Weren’t they all different from before?

When Ren Xiaosu returned to the campsite, the band and the soldiers were eating porridge and canned food.

When everyone saw the fish that Ren Xiaosu was holding, they were stunned. In the afternoon, they had thought they would see Ren Xiaosu make a fool of himself. This was because Ren Xiaosu was only wearing a loose jacket, and they knew at a glance that he had not brought along any dried food with him.

So when Liu Bu told Ren Xiaosu to handle his meals by himself, everyone gloated at him. They were all quite annoyed with Ren Xiaosu, this refugee kid who constantly gave them an inexplicable feeling of unease. However, they could not tell what it was that made them feel so.

But now, while they had to make do with canned luncheon meat in the wilderness, the smell of Ren Xiaosu’s roasted fish drifted over.

Ren Xiaosu had brought along a metal cup, a bone knife, and a box of matches with him for this journey. These necessities were part of his survival kit whenever he went into the wilderness. Of course, he could’ve left the matches behind since he knew other techniques for starting a fire. But if he could save some trouble by bringing matches along with him, why would he want to make it more difficult for himself? The matchbox didn’t take up a lot of space anyway.

Liu Bu wrinkled his nose when he smelled the roasted fish. “Hur hur, no big deal, it’s only a fish.”

All of a sudden, Ren Xiaosu heard the voice from the palace say, “Quest: Good things should be shared with others.”

Ren Xiaosu was stunned for some time. He picked up the branch that the fish was skewered on and walked to Liu Bu.

Liu Bu’s eyes lit up as he said in a reserved tone, “What, are you going to invite us to eat the fish? Well, I guess we can—”

“What are you thinking?” Ren Xiaosu said, “I was only showing it to you to share my happiness.”

Liu Bu was confused.

“Quest complete. Awarded 1.0 Dexterity.”

‘Alright!’ Ren Xiaosu was overjoyed. There were many ways of sharing after all!

Liu Bu flew into a rage from shame. “Ren Xiaosu, do you really think that I would have any of your fish?”

Ren Xiaosu looked at the fish that was about half a meter long and felt that a person would not be able to finish this on their own. So he looked at Liu Bu and said, “I’ll trade half of the fish for three bottles of water.”

Liu Bu said without hesitation, “Deal!”

Ren Xiaosu wanted to trade his food for some water because it was really troublesome for him to find water. Initially, he had planned to go to the river to get his water but gave up on the idea after being frightened by what he saw there. He could also look for pine needles as his water source, but it would be too slow to squeeze the water out of them bit by bit. So he might as well make it more convenient for himself by using something that he did not require in exchange for some water from the other party.

With three bottles of water, he could drink one bottle tonight and leave the other two bottles for the journey.

“Come, come, everyone, come and have some fish.” Liu Bu took out a pot they had brought along and laid half of the fish that Ren Xiaosu had given to them in it. But what Liu Bu had not expected was that the group of soldiers had already distributed the fish among themselves before Luo Xinyu, Yang Xiaojin, and he could even get to eat it!

“Um…” Liu Bu looked at Luo Xinyu in embarrassment. He could never have expected the soldiers to be such selfish people!

At this moment, Ren Xiaosu was sitting alone beside his personal fire pit while the others congregated around the larger campfire. Both sides drew a distinct line between themselves as though they were people from two different worlds.

Suddenly, Yang Xiaojin got up and went over to sit down across from Ren Xiaosu. She calmly said, “Fish.”

Ren Xiaosu was so surprised to find her tone unusually calm that he could not come up with a reason to reject her.

The light of the campfire was flickering against the figure of the girl. Ren Xiaosu started wondering if the girls from the stronghold were all as beautiful like her. ‘But, lady, can you move the gun away from me first? You have Perfect Firearms Proficiency and you’re pointing a gun at me, so I can’t help but feel a tad nervous!’

Ren Xiaosu had never robbed anyone before, but he hadn’t been robbed before either. This was the first time he’d experiencing something like this in his life!

“I’ll let you have two bites, just two bites!” Ren Xiaosu said firmly.

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The First Order – Chapter 41

There was a reason why the band members were unhappy with Ren Xiaosu. Even though they were “important people” from the stronghold, he had actually made excuses to reject them when they came looking for a guide in town. It was as though being their guide was an embarrassing thing for him.

In their opinion, shouldn’t you, Ren Xiaosu, take the initiative and volunteer like the first guide had done?!

How many people were hoping to strike up a closer relationship with those from the stronghold? Wang Fugui was indeed right to say that whoever the important people from the stronghold picked to do their bidding would lead to said people having a prosperous life.

Yet Ren Xiaosu’s reaction was to simply avoid them.

As a result, everyone’s impression of Ren Xiaosu worsened after the cracker incident. Especially Liu Bu. He was now even trying to persuade Luo Xinyu to head back to town to find another guide.

“Xinyu, we’ve only set off for half a day.” Liu Bu said, “It’s still not too late if we return to town. We’ll only be wasting a day of travel time.”

“But that’s still a waste of time,” Luo Xinyu said as she looked out of the window.

“But have you thought about it?” Liu Bu continued, “This kid seems really unreliable. If he gets even more unreliable, we won’t just be wasting a day’s time. I’ve heard before that the refugees in town don’t have much class, but I didn’t expect it to be so bad!”

Luo Xinyu shook her head and said, “Wang Fugui said that if even he can’t lead us through the mountains, no one else can do it.”

“I don’t believe that.” Liu Bu said in scorn, “The town is so big, so how can there not be someone who can lead us through the mountains? We only asked around the town, but there are actually a lot more people in the vicinity where there are seven large factories. Quite a few of them live at the factories, so if we went there to ask around, we might just discover something new.”

“There are only six factories now,” Luo Xinyu corrected.

One of the factories had just been destroyed by the wolves’ attack. As such, there were only six left.

“Then we can go and check out the other factories,” Liu Bu said in embarrassment.

“Enough, there will be no more discussion on this matter.” Luo Xinyu rejected him and said, “It wasn’t easy for us to get 12 soldiers from the private army to escort us this time, so don’t complicate things any further.”

Liu Bu did not keep arguing. Outsiders might think that Luo Xinyu was still young and most of the decisions would be made by him, the agent. But Liu Bu knew best that Luo Xinyu was a highly independent girl, and he was just the executor of her decisions.

Nowadays, there were celebrities like Luo Xinyu in every large stronghold. They were commonly known as “protags.”

But these protagonists would generally only have supporters within their own strongholds, and it was very difficult for them to make it at the other strongholds.

After all, the roads in the outside world were not as well-developed as before The Cataclysm happened. Furthermore, it was difficult to predict what people liked, so there were certainly some risks to bear if they wanted to expand their influence out of their own strongholds.

Once, a celebrity in Stronghold 89 wanted to cross over to the other strongholds to expand his influence. As a result, he went missing after leaving his stronghold. His agent and accompanying bodyguards were also nowhere to be found. It wasn’t until two months later that a body suspected to be his was found in the wilderness. There was a bullet embedded in his skeletal remains that clearly suggested he died from a gunshot wound. Further, he was even shot from behind.

This made everyone else even warier.

But Luo Xinyu was never satisfied with only being prominent in one stronghold. She was willing to take risks even though she knew it was dangerous to do so. For a girl, this required a lot of courage.

Luo Xinyu looked at Liu Bu, who kept silent. “You can pick on him, but don’t let it affect our journey. We just need him to properly guide us to our destination. Once we get back from Stronghold 112, you can do whatever you want with him.”

“OK,” Liu Bu responded.

It was a bumpy ride in the vehicles, with the soldiers from the private army driving. They were already driving the vehicles as safely as possible to avoid any irreversible damage to the suspensions, chassis, tires, and other parts of the vehicles. However, the road was too bumpy. There was hardly anything they could do about that.

Ren Xiaosu sat in the backseat of the point vehicle and gave directions to the driver from time to time. But as Liu Bu did not trust Ren Xiaosu, he’d specifically assigned two band members to sit beside him and keep an eye on him. This led to the point vehicle carrying five passengers in total.

The two band members sitting in the back had standoffish looks on their faces. They used to have plenty of room to spare in the backseats. But with Ren Xiaosu joining them, everyone felt uncomfortable.

This group that was planning to pass through the Jing Mountains suddenly looked like they were a special task force established to escort Ren Xiaosu to Stronghold 112…

But Ren Xiaosu felt that Liu Bu was a little naïve. With only one soldier from the private army driving the vehicle, the remaining three were all members of the band.

If he really wanted to cause trouble, he could probably kill everyone else in the vehicle in a mere three seconds, leaving him the only person alive inside.

The stronghold’s people did not understand a thing about the living conditions of the refugees. They only knew that it was full of hardships and was very dirty. That was basically all the knowledge they had.

The band member sitting next to Ren Xiaosu glanced at him and said haughtily, “You’d better behave yourself and not cause any unnecessary trouble.”

Ren Xiaosu said unhappily, “I only ate a little of your crackers. Is this really necessary?”

The band member raised his voice. “You call that a little? Let me tell you, you had no say over your own life from the moment you joined us, do you understand? Don’t overestimate yourself!”

The band member sitting in the front seat laughed and said, “Kid, do you know what’ll break when you throw an egg at a rock?”

Ren Xiaosu thought for a moment. “The heart.”

That band member was taken aback. “Whose heart?”

Ren Xiaosu answered, “The hen’s heart will be broken.”

Ren Xiaosu was quite happy with his reply as he managed to show a trace of humanity amid the witty response.

That evening, the convoy successfully crossed through a mountain pass in the Yun Range. From here, the terrain opened up, and a large forest could be seen beyond the Yun Range. Ren Xiaosu was gazing out the window, spellbound. A picturesque gully cutting through the vast, lively, and flat land had sprung from the extraordinary craftsmanship of nature.

The schoolteacher, Mr. Zhang, had said that this unique landform was formed by the tectonic movement of the Earth’s plates. Ren Xiaosu sometimes felt that humans were miniscule in the presence of such majesty.

The trees here were flourishing. Only a few muddy paths proved that humanity had been here before. This was also where the band had lost their way during the first expedition. Ren Xiaosu had heard from Mr. Zhang that trees in the tropical rainforest were so dense that it was almost impossible to pass through. However, the forest north of here was still relatively sparse. Only the grass seemed to be growing a little taller than usual.

In the evening, the convoy finally arrived at the clearing that Liu Bu had talked about. Liu Bu jumped out of the vehicle and laughed loudly. “Let’s set up camp here for today. Everyone, get some rest and eat something.”

The moment he finished speaking, Ren Xiaosu walked towards the pickup truck. But Liu Bu immediately stopped him. Ren Xiaosu said in surprise, “What?”

Liu Bu sneered. “We didn’t bring your share of the food and water, so resolve it by yourself.”

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The First Order – Chapter 136

The driver had wanted to reprimand Ren Xiaosu to get him to stand further away. But for some reason, he was terrified when he met Ren Xiaosu’s eyes.

“Oh, thank you.” Ren Xiaosu nodded as he looked at the affluent neighborhood. So it turned out there were also both poor and rich neighborhoods inside the stronghold? It seemed like the difference between the rich and poor was just as obvious within this stronghold.

When Ren Xiaosu thanked him for the information, the streetcar operator was stunned. He had already regarded Ren Xiaosu and his group as dreadful monsters, so he didn’t expect Ren Xiaosu would thank him so politely.

Before the driver could react, Ren Xiaosu was asking him again, “When does this streetcar turn around?”

The driver said haltingly, “Why don’t you take the next streetcar? It’ll arrive in 20 minutes.”

Ren Xiaosu looked at the driver. “Your suggestion is very irrational.”

“…All passengers, please sit tight and hold onto the handrails.”

On the way back, Ren Xiaosu disembarked from the streetcar a stop early, not far from their shop, because he had spotted a jewelry shop.

After confirming that no one was tailing him, he pretended to walk in as normally as he could. But as soon as he got in, he noticed a wanted poster put up on the walls of the jewelry shop.

Ren Xiaosu was stunned when he saw the wanted poster. Wasn’t this Xu Xianchu’s photo?! He was shown smartly dressed in a private army uniform that was probably taken when he was working for the stronghold.

“Manager, who’s on the wanted poster?” Ren Xiaosu asked.

“I don’t know. Someone from the stronghold’s Public Order Division came to put this up today.” The owner of the jewelry shop said, “They only mentioned that if anyone saw this person, they should immediately report it to them. There’s even a reward for doing so.”

“I haven’t seen this anywhere else, so why was it only put up in the jewelry shop?” Ren Xiaosu was getting worried.

“I heard it’s because someone stole some gold from the Qing Consortium. I don’t know the exact details, but the Public Order Division is conducting strict checks on all unknown supplies of gold. As long as the gold shows any signs of oxidization or doesn’t have a consortium’s logo imprinted on it, we are to report it to the Public Order Division when we come across it.” The owner of the jewelry store asked, “So, is there anything I can help you with?”

“Oh, it’s nothing…” Ren Xiaosu immediately walked back out of the jewelry shop.

Ren Xiaosu was despondent. He realized the Qing Consortium had likely detected he had taken a lot of gold with him.

Although he had left behind some of the gold he’d wrapped up in the jacket, someone from the Qing Consortium had to have realized the amount did not add up upon checking the jewelry shop’s display counters. In fact, the check would reveal that a large quantity of gold had gone missing! That was because a lot of dust had settled on the gold items that had been placed on the counter. After the gold was taken away, the signs pointing to it would be painfully obvious.

Ren Xiaosu did not want to take any chances. He knew that if the Qing Consortium had specifically put up the photo of a wanted man in a jewelry shop, they must have found out something. They clearly intended to seek him out at the point of sale when he tried to dispose of the stolen goods.

No, they should be seeking out Xu Xianchu.

Xu Xianchu had just arrived at the town outside Stronghold 111. After being on the run for many days, he finally made it here before he starved to death.

Along the way, Xu Xianchu would use his shadow clone to run as long as he was in a good frame of mind. Although it saved him a lot of energy when using the shadow clone to carry himself forward, he was on the verge of vomiting due to the bumpy ride when being piggybacked by the shadow clone.

But more importantly, he could not find much food to eat in the wilderness after parting ways with Ren Xiaosu and could only make do with some wild vegetables he found. During this time, he even suffered from diarrhea for an entire day. Fortunately for him, he was a supernatural being. Now that he had excellent physical fitness, eating some poisonous wild vegetables would not be enough to kill him.

At this moment, Xu Xianchu was looking forward to getting back to human civilization so that he could get something to eat. Every time he came across a rock these past two days, he would think it was an unfilled steamed bun that could be eaten!

But when he arrived at the entrance of the town, he had a feeling that several people staring were at him.

Xu Xianchu went over to a shack and said, “Hello, do you have anything I can eat? I’ll pay you for it.”

Xu Xianchu swallowed hard when he saw some cornbread inside the shack.

The man of the family came out and sized up Xu Xianchu. “You’re not from our town, right? You don’t look familiar at all.”

“Ahem, I’m just passing by,” Xu Xianchu explained. He was thinking that other people should not recognize him since his face was so dirty now.

But as the refugee sized up Xu Xianchu, he suddenly noticed something. He shouted, “Xu Xianchu! Xu Xianchu is here! Everyone, grab him!”

Xu Xianchu was confused.

On his way here to Stronghold 111, Xu Xianchu actually felt very hesitant. After all, Stronghold 111 was where the Qing Consortium’s headquarters were. But he felt that it wouldn’t be a problem if he just stayed in town for a short while, right? But at this moment, Xu Xianchu realized he was wrong to have thought that way!

The Qing Consortium should have issued an order to arrest him. Otherwise, these refugees would not be trying to catch him like they were all soldiers.

But he hadn’t done anything at all. When he was still in the Jing Mountains, he did not even manage to get past the lockdown perimeter the Qing Consortium had set up. So why were they wasting so much effort to try to catch him?!

Of course, Xu Xianchu was also a little worried for Ren Xiaosu and Yang Xiaojin. If there were already so many people going after someone who had not even breached the perimeter, he could easily imagine how massive the turnout would be when it came to arresting Yang Xiaojin and Ren Xiaosu.

In that instant, Xu Xianchu did not hesitate any further. He summoned his shadow clone to kick aside the refugee in front of him. Simultaneously, he rushed into the shack and grabbed several black cornbreads into his arms before running away!

He could not stay here anymore. It seemed he had to head elsewhere. It would be best if he could go somewhere not under the control of the Qing Consortium!

After much consideration, Xu Xianchu suddenly felt that Stronghold 109, which was controlled by the Li Consortium, was his best choice!

At this moment, the engines of a huge convoy of vehicles roared in the distance. Xu Xianchu had already mounted the back of the shadow clone before the refugees could catch up to him. The buff shadow clone immediately accelerated into the depths of the wilderness!

When the refugees saw this, they stopped in their tracks. This was most likely the first time they had ever seen a supernatural being with their own eyes!

When the convoy arrived in town after driving back from far in the wilderness, it started slowing down. Inside one of the vehicles, Qing Zhen was dirty and covered in dirt. If it weren’t for the consortium’s people picking him up from outside the Jing Mountains, who knows when he would have gotten back to Stronghold 111.

Qing Zhen frowned when he saw the disturbance in town. “Xu Man, go and find out what’s happening.”

They didn’t manage to see what had happened because they were too far away.

Xu Man rolled down the window and looked at one of the refugees. “What happened here?”

The refugee walked over and said in a respectful tone, “We discovered Xu Xianchu just now.”

Qing Zhen, who was seated in the back, immediately sat straight. “Xu Xianchu? Where is he?”

The refugee pointed in the direction Xu Xianchu had fled and said, “He ran out into the wilderness.”

“…Get someone to catch him.” Qing Zhen said, “Let the Spec Ops soldiers do it. They’re much more experienced in the wilderness than Xu Xianchu is.”

“Boss,” Xu Man said awkwardly, “you’re about to start your house arrest.”

Qing Zhen asked, “…Where does that path lead?”

Xu Man gave it some thought. “Boss, it should be Stronghold 109 over there.”

“Call Luo Lan.” Qing Zhen clenched his teeth and said, “If Xu Xianchu shows up in the vicinity of Stronghold 109, I want him arrested!”

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The First Order – Chapter 224

Chapter 224 Meat is our staple food

When normal soldiers came to this outpost, they would be ferried in military transport trucks. But these nanosoldiers who were all at least first lieutenants had arrived in over a dozen off-road vehicles.

Ren Xiaosu checked out how many of them there were and counted 48. If this number of nanosoldiers who had gathered here was only serving as support for those at the next outpost, then how many people were in the main force over there?

The outpost’s soldiers stood at the side, not daring to utter a word. Only Li Qingzheng went over to the officers to ask if they needed any assistance and if they wanted to eat lunch here.

However, Lin Qi proudly laughed and said, “We’re on official duty here, so how could we have time to eat lunch here? We usually carry our own rations when we’re out on a mission. If we eat anything unhygienic here at your place and get the runs, none of you will be able to answer for it.”

“Yes, that’s right.” Li Qingzheng pretended to smile and said, “You’re absolutely correct.”

In reality, Lin Qi’s resentment was mainly focused on Ren Xiaosu. After all, he did not have anything against the rest of the refugees. Just based on the difference of their statuses, he was quite satisfied.

But during their escape, Ren Xiaosu’s group really had it too easy while the rest of them had to endure starvation. Now that he was elevated in status, he naturally wanted to compare.

Of course, Ren Xiaosu could also understand this.

At this moment, Lin Qi said, “I heard that the rice supply sent here was mixed with sand. I had heard about how the living conditions of those of you who were recruited by the private army during the expansion isn’t too good. Do you usually have enough to eat?”

“It’s not too bad.” Li Qingzheng said with a smile, “We’re still able to pick some wild vegetables to add to our meals sometimes.”

He couldn’t possibly tell them that they had meat to eat, right? There was no such thing as not having enough to eat around here, but it would definitely intensify the conflict if he said that now.

However, Lin Qi continued, “You won’t have enough strength if you just eat wild vegetables and not have a staple food. Don’t let it get in the way of performing your sentry duty.”

Chen Wudi asked Ren Xiaosu at the side, “Master, what does a staple food mean?”

Ren Xiaosu thought for a moment before giving him a short answer. “Food that you always eat.”

When Lin Qi heard the conversation between Chen Wudi and Ren Xiaosu, he said to Chen Wudi with a laugh, “You’re such a crazy fool. A staple food refers to food like rice and noodles.”

Chen Wudi shook his head. “That’s not right, our staple food is meat.”

Lin Qi: “???”

Li Qingzheng and Ren Xiaosu realized this was going to be bad. That fool of a kid had somehow spilled the beans. However, they then discovered that Lin Qi did not seem to believe what Chen Wudi had said. They heard Lin Qi say with a sigh, “You’re even turning to lying in order to boost your pitiful self-esteem, I see.”

But even though Lin Qi did not believe it, the other officers started getting suspicious. “You all have meat here?”

Ren Xiaosu’s heart sank. Some of these people were quite astute. Li Qingzheng laughed and replied, “Haha, he was just kidding. How could we possibly have any meat here?”

But that soldier did not let go of the matter just because of Li Qingzheng’s explanation. He went towards outpost. “There’s something off about your outpost.”

Ren Xiaosu said calmly, “So you’ve found out?” Ren Xiaosu then headed to one of the houses in the outpost. He opened the door of that house with everyone looking… only to reveal Hu Shuo inside!

It was obvious that Hu Shuo was a high-ranking official in the stronghold. How else could he command a group of elite soldiers comparable to those the consortium had?

Since this old man was planning to spend the Lunar New Year here, Ren Xiaosu brought him out to shield them from any further trouble during a crisis!

Hu Shuo looked calmly at Ren Xiaosu, and Ren Xiaosu looked calmly at Hu Shuo as well. Hu Shuo got so angry he almost laughed. He had specifically gone into the house to avoid meeting these people!

One of the officers said in surprise, “S-Sir, what are you doing here?”

Hu Shuo slowly stepped out. “Oh, I’m here to investigate something, so my little friends here at the outpost are providing me with some assistance.”

“Sorry, we didn’t expect you to be here. I’m a soldier of the 7th Brigade and have been assigned to the Divine Arms Battalion,” the soldier said humbly while bowing deeply.

For a refugee like Lin Qi who had only recently been recruited into the combat troops, he definitely would not know who Hu Shuo was. But this officer had been a soldier of the Li Consortium for a while and recognized Hu Shuo immediately.

When Ren Xiaosu saw this unfold, he nearly gasped. Just who was this Hu Shuo supposed to be? This nanosoldier was behaving so arrogantly just now, so what made him become so humble all of a sudden?

If only Chen Wudi could explain it more clearly; then Ren Xiaosu could have at least figured out how strong this Hu Shuo was.

Hu Shuo smiled amiably at the officers and said, “You guys have work to do, so I won’t waste your time.”

That soldier immediately stood to attention. “Yes, sir!” Then he ordered the others to quickly unload their gear from the vehicles and wear it.

Ren Xiaosu observed them and discovered there wasn’t much of a difference between these nanosoldiers’ gear and what the ordinary soldiers wore. They were all standard-issue combat uniforms and individual weapons of war, while one of the officers was carrying a portable radio transceiver. After all, the distance between the outposts were some dozens of kilometers away from each other, so they needed to use the radios to communicate and share intel.

The only difference was that these soldiers were each equipped with a long saber that was sheathed in a black leather scabbard. Ren Xiaosu could not tell what kind of material this sword was made of. But if it was something the nanosoldiers carried, it probably wasn’t any ordinary weapon.

Someone asked that soldier while they were donning their gear, “Who’s that old man?”

That soldier’s expression changed. “Don’t ask. Let’s head into the mountains and get out of here.” He sounded terrified of Hu Shuo.

When Ren Xiaosu saw this, he couldn’t figure out what was so scary about Hu Shuo.

Everyone at the outpost watched as these officers fell silent en masse before hurrying off deep into Mount Kun. After they left, Ren Xiaosu laughed and said, “I won’t ask you any questions for the next three days.”

When Hu Shuo heard this, the annoyance of getting “betrayed” by Ren Xiaosu lessened a little…

Ren Xiaosu followed up with a smile and said, “You see, it can’t get out that we have all this meat here. Otherwise, you’re not going to have a peaceful New Year either.”

“Don’t take this undeserved gain for granted,” Hu Shuo snapped at him.

“But I’m curious about something.” Ren Xiaosu asked, “I know that Lin Qi too, and he didn’t used to be a soldier. He only joined the army for a few days, but they’re already sending him out on a mission?”

Hu Shuo shot him a look. “What are you trying to ask?”

“Soldiers are required to train for a long time before being deployed.” Ren Xiaosu said in seriousness, “Whether it be their discipline or combat skills, those are not qualities that can be instilled quickly. So I’m curious why the Li Consortium is so anxious to deploy them. They can’t even be considered recruits, right?”



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The First Order – Chapter 226

Chapter 226 Stealing nanomachines for fun!

Was it the wolves? No.

The soldier’s silver snakes were fitted with extra camera equipment that could send back an image feed via the nanomachines’ neural connection. So even though that shadow was extremely fast and the image was blurry, the soldier was very sure it wasn’t a wolf.

Captain Zhou looked at him and wondered, “If it’s not a wolf, what is it?”

“It looked more like a… shadow,” the platoon member said. But at this moment, he exclaimed again, “Oh no, my silver snake is getting out of my range!”

He then chased after it and tried to keep within the control range of the nanorobotic, silver snake. However, his speed was way lower than his opponent’s. Before he could even cover two steps, his neural connection to that silver snake was completely cut off!

Captain Zhou’s expression sank. He had not believed they would encounter any danger out here. But who could have thought they would lose a portion of their nanomachines less than three hours after entering the mountain!

And they didn’t even know who did it! And for what motive!

If the opponent were a human, why did they want to steal the nanorobotic snake? As if they could use it after stealing it?!

“Captain, what do we do now?” someone asked.

Captain Zhou said with a cold expression, “Where did he run off to?”

“To the southwest!” that platoon member said.

“Give chase!” Captain Zhou said, “It’s only one person, isn’t it? Make a call to the next outpost with the radio. Tell them we’ve discovered a new target that might be even more important than the wolves. Let them know we’ll be pursuing this target with everything we’ve got and will be disengaging from Operation: Wolf Encirclement.”

In truth, this Captain Zhou was the only person in the platoon who knew why they had been deployed to the mountains. There was no hurry in trying to encircle the wolves. What was more important was to ensure they did not lose the nanomachines.

Meanwhile, Ren Xiaosu had just received the nanorobotic snake, already in an idle state, from his shadow clone. He had thought it would take a nasty battle for him to get his hands on the nanomachines. But that would not have been worth it at all, and he still preferred picking them off the nanosoldiers who had gotten separated from their groups…

But sometimes, luck could even make a person hand you a pillow right when you were feeling sleepy. Someone had actually volunteered to send some nanomachines his way.

In just two seconds, the palace reset the nanomachines back to their factory settings by clearing the remote access protocol and executing a series of other instructions. The tiny, nanorobotic silver snake transformed back into liquid metal and melded together with the rest of the nanomachines within Ren Xiaosu’s body.

It was like the newly gained nanomachines had been handed to him on a silver platter.

However, Ren Xiaosu was sad. The size of this silver snake was too small. It wasn’t easy for him to control the shadow clone before finding this one snake. If he had to go and continue searching for more of them, how many years would that take him?

No! A glimmer suddenly appeared in Ren Xiaosu’s eyes!

Lin Qi and the others kept going deeper and deeper into the forested mountains. However, they did not head up and were instead walking along the mountain pass down towards the valley.

“Captain, why don’t we give up on the chase?” Lin Qi said, a little worried. “It’s only a silver snake. I’m afraid something bad will happen if we walk too far.”

Captain Zhou shot him a look and said, “If you’re so afraid of death, why be a soldier? The wolf pack isn’t in our direction, so what’s there to be afraid of? Keep marching!”

As that was being said, a platoon member whisper-shouted, “Captain, look over there in the valley!”

Everyone turned to look at the valley and noticed a shadow dash by. That “person” looked like he had been resting over there and wasn’t expecting Captain Zhou and the others to chase him all the way here!

“Don’t let him get out of our pursuit range!” Captain Zhou ordered ruthlessly.

In an instant, the remaining four nanorobotic snakes slithered towards where the shadow had disappeared. Simultaneously, the other soldiers rushed towards the forested wilderness as a silvery glow emanated from the blood vessels in their skin.

Could the nanomachines be constantly running in their bodies and only needed a thought from their owners to instantly form into sophisticated support machinery that could aid them in achieving an even greater strength? Strictly speaking, these nanosoldiers’ strength and speed had already exceeded that of normal people. They were basically superhumans created through technology!

These nanosoldiers rushed across the uneven terrain as though it was flat ground. There were even some people who could leap across distances of more than ten meters with a single leap!

Endless gunfire rang out as they chased the shadow clone while concentrating their firepower on it. It was as though they were attempting to blast the shadow clone to shreds with their overwhelming firepower.

But even if they were physically strong, they were still recruits who had not gone through firearms training. While moving at a high speed, they could not even manage the most basic of aiming.

“Don’t waste your ammo.” Captain Zhou sneered. “Catch him first and take it from there.”

But during the pursuit, only the soldier controlling the nanorobotic snakes had suspicions. It felt like this shadow’s speed was slower than when it escaped after taking away the snake.

But since he had precious little combat experience, he wasn’t willing to casually pass judgment on the situation.

As they were closing the distance between themselves and the shadow clone, the silver snakes had already closed the gap. However, the shadow clone suddenly reached behind and took a swipe. No one knew what it was swiping at, but the shadow clone immediately picked up its pace and disappeared!

The speed at which it ran off stunned Captain Zhou and the others. ‘How can that be a fucking human?! Just what are you after? If you’re so good at running, why didn’t you run faster just now?’

But a second later, the nanosoldier controlling the silver snakes caught up to the rest. He panted out, “This is bad!”

His nanomachines had been used to form the nanorobotic snakes for scouting ahead, so when the group gave chase with all their might, he fell behind their pace.

Captain Zhou frowned and said, “What’s the matter?”

The nanosoldier said, sounding devastated, “The silver snakes have all been taken away….”

It was only at this moment that everyone realized it. Their supernatural opponent had only used this as a tactic to slowly pull the silver snakes closer to him so he could capture them all at once.

Their opponent had been targeting the nanorobotic snakes from the very beginning!

What the hell? Was he unsatisfied with how long it took to capture them one by one? Was that not enough to satisfy him?

Captain Zhou stood atop a rock looking resigned

At present, before they even encountered any of the wolves, one of the nanosoldiers had already had their nanomachines forcefully taken away. Was it even acceptable for a nanosoldier to not have any nanomachines in them?

Previously, he felt that using the nanomachines as external scouting equipment was a really good idea since it could vastly raise the efficiency of their reconnaissance.

After this incident, Captain Zhou felt he would have to go back to the general staff to report to them that this method wasn’t going to work anymore. There was someone who specialized in stealing nanomachines for fun.

“Let’s retreat.” Captain Zhou said coldly, “We can’t continue chasing him.”

After weighing the pros and cons, he felt they might suffer even greater losses if they continued the chase. They were obviously not on the same level as their opponent, so it was necessary to cut their losses as soon as possible.

But right at this moment, wolves howled from a hillside not far from them. Captain Zhou’s face turned gloomy.



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The First Order – Chapter 228

Chapter 228 The wolves turn intelligent

It wasn’t until when Lin Qi and the other soldiers noticed a problem with Captain Zhou that they finally realized he might be carrying a wireless charging pack for his nanomachines.

It was precisely because of this equipment that Captain Zhou’s nanomachines were still at full power while everyone else’s nanomachines were close to dying.

In this time of danger, Lin Qi and the others were all hoping to charge their nanomachines as well. If they could, their chances of survival would be higher. So Lin Qi and a few others decided to ask Captain Zhou for his backpack after exchanging looks with each other.

But before they could ask, chaos broke out in the forest behind them. Huge beasts seemed to be moving within it.

“Damn, the wolf pack has caught up!” Captain Zhou shouted, “Run!”

Who could have the chance to say anything at such a time? They could only continue fleeing for their lives!

But when they realized the wolves had caught up to them and were already flanking them, everyone forced themselves to run even faster at the sight of this in fear of getting caught by the wolves.

Several nanosoldiers whose nanomachines were almost dead started falling behind. However, none of their comrades intended to help them.

They just got more and more desperate as they ran, to the point that some even forgot they had guns they could use to protect themselves with from the wolves’ attacks.

Ren Xiaosu hid somewhere on the hillside and watched, sighing. The Li Consortium had indeed sent them out here to die. If this group of nanosoldiers were made up of the Li Consortium’s combat troops, there would have at least been some order even if they were retreating, not a total rout like what was happening

At the end of the day, these were just normal people who happened to be able to control the nanomachines.

Some of them might not even have willpower on par with most people.

However, Ren Xiaosu was actually more curious about what an elite nanosoldier of the Li Consortium was like.

“Eh?” Ren Xiaosu noticed something different about Captain Zhou. He discovered the power of his nanomachines did not seem to be weakening.

Why was that?

A moment later, the wolves suddenly converged from both flanks for the attack. They forcefully separated the group of fleeing nanosoldiers in two. Only now did the nanosoldiers who were under attack finally remember that they were still carrying guns. They immediately thought to shoot the wolves. But they turned out to be so stupid they even forgot how to disengage the safety on their guns!

Some of them drew their sabers from their waists. The sword was a melee weapon the Li Consortium had specially issued the nanosoldiers so they could make use of their superstrength when it became necessary.

To these nanosoldiers, a sword was far more useful than a gun when the battle became a close quarters fight.

Ren Xiaosu looked at the saber in their hands from nearby and saw the blade was orange. However, the edge of the blade was silver just like the nanomachines.

When the blade was swung at the wolves, the silver edge of the blade pulsed and felt like a ripple spreading outwards.

Ren Xiaosu wondered if the edge was also composed of nanomachines.

When one of the soldiers’ sabers cut into a wolf’s body, that wolf’s abdomen was split open like it encountered a burning blade!

When the wolf pack saw the power of this weapon, they stopped pushing for a frontal assault. Rather, they went in from behind to sneak attack!

Captain Zhou, Lin Qi, and the others did not even turn around and continued fleeing for their lives. If they didn’t think of something, they would die as well. This was also the case for Captain Zhou whose nanomachines were still at full power as he wouldn’t be able to outrun the wolves!

“Who has the cluster grenades? Hand them to me!” Captain Zhou roared. His life dangling by a thread, his commanding voice was even starting to sound a little hoarse.

Someone’s expression changed when he heard that. “But our comrades are still behind us!”

Some people were still firing their guns within the wolf pack. This indicated that some of the people surrounded by the wolves were still alive!

Captain Zhou sneered, “If you want to sympathize with them, go ahead and save them. Otherwise, don’t put on a false front with me. Didn’t we already leave our other comrades behind to escape?”.

No one made a sound. Still, someone could not help but comment, “You’re trying to blow up our comrades.”

“Comrades?” Captain Zhou gave a snort of disgust and said, “You people are not fit to be called my comrades! Our platoon still has ten cluster grenades. Hand them all over.”

With that, a few people took out several grenades from their backpacks.

When Ren Xiaosu saw this from a distance, he looked disturbed. These people had actually brought cluster grenades with them?!

Although the wolves could withstand bullets pretty well, they wouldn’t stand a chance against these grenades. If some of the wolves got blown up, wouldn’t Ren Xiaosu fail his side


When he thought about that, he ordered his shadow clone into the battlefield. Ren Xiaosu also rushed towards the Wolf King at the back and whisper-shouted, “Stop giving chase! It’s too dangerous!”

The majority of the wolves immediately stopped in their tracks. However, one of the wolves was in bloodlust mode. After biting several of the nanosoldiers dead, it was about to rush forward again. This wolf’s social standing was second only to that of the Wolf King, and Ren Xiaosu often saw it standing guard by the Wolf King as well. It was basically the second-in-command.

As a result, the shadow clone rushed in front of the wolf just as it tried to charge forward. The shadow clone picked it up and ran back to the wolf pack. That wolf got angry and kept roaring frantically. However, the shadow clone did not even care and just carried it away!

The Wolf King’s appearance changed when it saw the shadow clone carrying the wolf. This thing was that strong?!

Captain Zhou and the soldiers pulled the safety pins out of the cluster grenades all at once and were about to throw them at the wolf pack behind them. However, they were shocked to discover the wolves had already stopped in their tracks and were no longer chasing them. In addition, one of the wolves that had been bounding towards them was being carried away in the opposite direction by the corporeal shadow.

Lin Qi and the others were all dumbfounded by the sight. What was the meaning of this? Why had they given up the chase?

And why was that shadow stopping that wolf from charging?

It wasn’t that they were inexperienced and had not seen the world yet, but this sight before them was too ridiculous. Some of the soldiers were looking at the cluster grenades with smoke coming out of them and asked, “Should we still throw them?”

“Throw them!” Captain Zhou then tossed the grenade in his hand at the wolves. If they didn’t, they would blow themselves up.

But by throwing the grenades, they couldn’t even blow up any of the wolves! Had these wolves turned intelligent?

Loud booms thundered through the wilderness of the mountains, and birds scattered into the sky like a spiraling, dark cloud.

The Wolf King silently watched as smoke, branches, and leaves were sent flying by the blasts. It knew about the firearms and explosives humans used and wasn’t all that surprised.

It looked at Ren Xiaosu and nodded its head at him as though to convey its gratitude. If not for Ren Xiaosu stopping them just in time, the wolf pack would probably have suffered major casualties.

But of course, Ren Xiaosu could not say he had interfered only because of the quest. But actually, even without it, Ren Xiaosu would still not have stood by and watched. They were partners, after all.

He looked at the nanosoldiers who had already been killed by the wolf pack. The silvery nanomachines were already starting to seep out from under the skins of the bodies. Ren Xiaosu counted up nine nanosoldiers who’d died from the encirclement by the wolves in what was a fairly efficient attack. It was just a pity that they had allowed Lin Qi and the rest of the soldiers to get away due to the cluster grenades being thrown.



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The First Order – Chapter 223

Chapter 223 Encircling the wolves!

The quest rewards given by the palace had always been extraordinary. The first quest reward he received was the black saber, while the second one was Explosive Poker. By now, Ren Xiaosu’s gratitude tokens had slowly increased to 460 coins. However, he had exchanged some of them for Explosive Poker cards in between, although nobody knew how many of those handy explosives he now carried.

And now that the palace issued yet another quest to him, the quest reward did not seem related to any type of lethal weapon. It was just some small “seeds.” However, Ren Xiaosu placed a great deal of importance to it.

These “seeds” represented a dream, and Ren Xiaosu could only hope that it would live up to the rewards the side quest gave.

If these seeds turned out to be something magical, Ren Xiaosu could find a plot of land and become self-sufficient!

The only problem was that it might not be so easy to ensure that there would be no deaths in the wolf pack over the next seven days.

It looked like Ren Xiaosu would have to pay extra attention to the Li Consortium’s nanosoldiers. If he couldn’t complete this quest, what should he do if the palace decided not to issue another seeds-related side quest to him?

While everyone was processing the cured meat, Hu Shuo was practicing tai chi off to the side. Ren Xiaosu suddenly thought of something, so he asked, “Are you practicing tai chi as a form of cultivation?”

“Cultivation?” Hu Shuo looked at Ren Xiaosu and said with a laugh, “I’m only doing it as a form of exercise and discipline, so don’t be overthinking things.”

Ren Xiaosu really wanted to know what powers Hu Shuo had. In fact, Hu Shuo didn’t dodge any questions, but the one who witnessed Hu Shuo fight was Chen Wudi. This rendered Ren Xiaosu speechless.

When Li Qingzheng mentioned he had been learning boxing styles since he was a child, Ren Xiaosu brushed it off like it was some kind of superstition. But seeing Hu Shuo practice tai chi every day with so much vigor, Ren Xiaosu could not help but think that Li Qingzheng also knew a powerful boxing style.

Right at this moment, over a dozen off-road vehicles suddenly roared up from the foot of the mountain. When everyone here saw the off-road vehicles, they immediately stopped working

“Put everything away,” Li Qingzheng instructed quietly.

The cured meat they were making was definitely not going to be considered official business around here. After all, their primary duty was to keep a lookout for enemies. If those people were here for an inspection, they would definitely fail them.

However, Ren Xiaosu already knew they couldn’t be the inspection personnel.

The dozen off-road vehicles arrived in such a hurry with an overbearing manner.

It looked like it was going to get really busy at this outpost.

Everyone had thought they wouldn’t have much contact with people after getting posted to this faraway outpost. But in the end, all these different people came here every few days.

What was going on here?

Ren Xiaosu quietly observed the situation. He realized Hu Shuo had gone into a house at some point. It was as though he didn’t want to come face to face with these people.

When the off-road vehicles came to a stop at the entrance of the outpost, four people stepped out from each of them. They were all dressed in combat uniforms and held the rank of officer.

On this topic, Ren Xiaosu and the others were soldiers as well, but they were all irregularly dressed with only a few of them in their military uniforms. On the other hand, the soldiers who had just arrived were all smartly dressed, resulting in a stark contrast between the two sides.

From appearances alone, Ren Xiaosu and the others looked more like they were on chow duty. All they were lacking were some aprons.

But what surprised Ren Xiaosu and the others was that there was actually someone they knew among these officers!

To be precise, it was someone the refugees knew. Back when these randomly assembled soldiers were undergoing their physicals, one of them in the group managed to pass the synchronization test!

But now, that person had moved on up to become a proper officer of the Li Consortium. Ren Xiaosu vaguely remembered that this refugee who had been elevated in status was called Lin Qi.

When Lin Qi got out of the vehicle, he was taken aback when he saw Ren Xiaosu and the other refugees. But right after, he laughed. “Oh, I didn’t expect to see these familiar faces.”

Ren Xiaosu and the others did not say anything. Lin Qi’s dignified look today would not give away the awful state he was in while fleeing from Stronghold 109. His polished combat boots fit him very well, as did his uniform.

Someone behind Lin Qi asked, “You actually know these people?”

Lin Qi hesitated for a moment before saying, “We came together to Stronghold 108 from Stronghold 109. Now that I’ve met them again at this remote outpost, I’ll definitely need to take care of these little brothers of mine.”

Coming from Lin Qi’s mouth, Ren Xiaosu and the others had suddenly become his little brothers.

Lin Qi was feeling a great sense of superiority. During their escape, Ren Xiaosu’s group had it so easy the entire journey. But look at how the tables had turned. Ren Xiaosu could only remain as a refugee while he had become an officer of the Li Consortium. He was even a first lieutenant!

The gulf that was the stronghold separated Lin Qi from Ren Xiaosu at this moment. Their statuses were as different as that of the heavens and the Earth.

Ren Xiaosu’s group did not really find Lin Qi to be that great. In the past, Ren Xiaosu might be envious of the stronghold residents. But now, he wasn’t the least bit envious at all.

But the other refugees who used to walk alongside Lin Qi were feeling somewhat embarrassed. When they saw Lin Qi in his uniform, they did not even dare to come forward to speak with him.

Lin Qi was getting conceited. He laughed and said, “How are you doing here at the outpost? It must be really difficult, right? If I had known that all of you were here, I would have brought over the pound of pork allocated to me by the troops so that you can have a taste of some meat. After all, it’s not easy for you all to get any meat in a place like this, unlike me who gets to have it every day.”

If he had mentioned anything else but this, it would have been fine. But when it came to the topic of having meat to eat, Ren Xiaosu and the others started looking a little funny. Honestly speaking, they would prefer having more vegetables in their diets right now. Having too much meat really did not help with their digestion.

But Ren Xiaosu felt that if Lin Qi were really willing to share some meat with them, it would mean he was still kind at heart even though he was a little showy. They would just treat it as someone giving them compensation so they could look good, something that wouldn’t hurt them at all.

But Lin Qi’s tone took a turn at this moment. “Forget it, it wouldn’t be good if I brought meat for you refugees. If I let you have a taste of meat, I’d be bringing harm to you if you don’t have the appetite for anything else in the future.”

Ren Xiaosu nearly burst out laughing. Beside him, Li Qingzheng stood up and laughed along humbly. “Dear sirs, to what do we owe your distinguished visitation?”

Lin Qi’s expression turned a little dark when his words were cut off by Li Qingzheng who changed the topic. However, he still answered very quickly, “We’re here to offer fire support to our comrades to rein in the threat of the wolves in these mountains. But this area is not going to be the main battlefield. That will be the next outpost where even more troops are currently waiting.”

Ren Xiaosu was startled. Surely there was a problem with the intel the Li Consortium received, right? But he soon understood. The previous wolf attack had taken place in the vicinity of the next outpost, which was why the Li Consortium’s troops thought the wolves’ area of activity was closer to the mountain range over there.

It was no wonder more than 40 nanosoldiers had gathered here. Based on his fight with the nanosoldiers, and assuming these nanosoldiers here were at the same level as those he had faced, he felt they wouldn’t amount to any threat to the wolf pack.

However, he could not dismiss these nanosoldiers either, because he had recently realized the nanomachines might still have a lot of functions he hadn’t discovered yet. He was using it purely as external armor right now.

This was the perfect opportunity for him to observe how these nanosoldiers did battle.




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