Chapter 203 Exemption from military service
As the military transport truck rumbled along noisily, a cold, piercing wind blew through the exposed cargo bed, the knife wind cutting the passengers’ faces.
At the beginning, what worried Ren Xiaosu the most was that these military transport trucks would transport the men and women to separate places, with the women being directly transported to the factory to work as female workers. However, that situation did not happen, and it allowed him to let out a temporary sigh of relief.
Wang Fugui said with a frown, “We couldn’t bring our bicycles with us.”
The moment he said that, Ren Xiaosu’s face turned gloomy.
This was probably the first time their group had suffered such a significant loss since leaving Stronghold 113.
This was the wasteland. All belongings were but worldly possessions, where things got discarded at a whim. If that saying applied to human lives, it was even more so for bicycles!
In the current situation, even though Ren Xiaosu and Chen Wudi were both supernatural beings, it would still be extremely difficult for them to take on an entire unit.
Watching the Li Consortium’s troops heading towards Stronghold 109, Ren Xiaosu felt that he might not see them anymore in the future. That was because he did not think those troops were a match for over a 1,000 Experimentals in urban warfare. Unless, of course, the Li Consortium resorted to using heavy weaponry to flatten the stronghold.
But a stronghold was built precisely for the resources around it. Would the Li Consortium be willing to completely give up on an entire stronghold just like that? They definitely would not. The price to pay was simply too great if they had to blow up an entire stronghold and rebuild it from scratch.
The trucks drove through the snow for seven to eight hours straight. During this period, some of the trucks in the convoy broke down several times. It was only at such times that the people in the trucks were allowed to get out to stretch and relieve themselves.
The private troops kept an eye on the escapees as though they were supervising prisoners. Ren Xiaosu exchanged glances with Xiaoyu and Jiang Wu from a distance, but they had no idea what the other party was trying to say.
After the trucks were repaired, the convoy continued on with its journey. During this time, Wang Fugui was striking up conversations with the soldiers, which was what he was best at. In just a short while, he was on very familiar terms with the soldiers who were assigned to watch over them.
When they got back into the truck, Wang Fugui whispered to Ren Xiaosu, “It seems that we’re heading straight for the town outside Stronghold 108. I’m sure we all know what these soldiers are like. Once we get there, I’ll see if I can get them to secretly exempt us from military and manual labor by offering them some money and antibiotics.”
The “manual labor” was referring to the female escapees getting recruited to work in the factories.
With someone like Wang Fugui in the group, any news would not become too inaccessible for them. Ren Xiaosu and the others were not good at dealing with people, so Wang Fugui had to be the one to do
Ren Xiaosu asked in a whisper, “Did you ask them what the situation at the other Li Consortium strongholds is right now?”
“I asked, and everything is fine for now,” Wang Fugui replied. “However, they’re on full alert now. The Li Consortium has announced to the world that they’re on wartime alert. It seems like war will be breaking out soon.”
“It looks like they’re not only gonna be dealing with the Experimentals this time.” Ren Xiaosu sighed. If it were only about handling the problem of the Experimentals, there wouldn’t be a need to raise the alert across a dozen-odd strongholds at once.
But where did the Li Consortium find the confidence to start a war? Surely they didn’t intend to rely on their nanomachines, right?
Yang Xiaojin had mentioned that even though the research results that everyone had been trying to get their hands on did not get destroyed in time by the Li Consortium, they must have already transferred the research data through their own satellite network. So the Li Consortium’s research was definitely not for nothing.
At the time, Ren Xiaosu even raised some doubts regarding the matter. If that were the case, the portable hard drive was probably left behind on purpose. If the Yang Consortium decided to use it, it would be better for them to inspect it first. Otherwise, it might turn out to be a trap.
Such was Ren Xiaosu’s nature. While other people might not overthink things, he would be extra careful and alert as long as he felt there was something unusual.
As of now, the best solution was for them to use money to get an exemption from having to serve in the military and perform manual labor. The soldiers were swearing in the truck at having to come out to work in such cold weather. They were quite similar to the private troops in Ren Xiaosu’s memory.
These troops were also very greedy and always thinking about money. In the truck, Wang Fugui quietly swapped the most valuable items to Ren Xiaosu so he could stuff them into his storage space. That would prevent the soldiers from getting any ideas in case they saw the valuable items they had.
The escapees in the truck had ashen looks on their faces. They thought they would be rescued once the Li Consortium’s troops arrived. No one expected it would turn out like this. Going from a stronghold resident to a refugee—they were rather unable to accept such a fall from grace.
Just as they were about to arrive at the stronghold, the private army’s convoy suddenly came to a halt. Then an officer who did not even bother wearing his beret properly said while tucking his thumbs in his belt, “Look, we also don’t wish for all of you to suffer as soldiers or manual laborers, but it’s not up to us since these orders came from above.”
An escapee begged, “Sir, I’ve got problems with my knee. I really can’t be a soldier.”
A woman also begged, “We really don’t know how to sew. We’ve never done anything like that before.” With a smile, the officer of the private army said politely, “Don’t worry, it’ll be easy to pick up. However, I have another solution. I’m very familiar with Commander Li, who’s in charge of the draft. If any of you have any ideas, I can put in a word for you. But it’s certainly not enough to just talk about it. Let me make this clear: I do not stand to gain anything from this. All I’m trying to do is to plead on everyone’s behalf.”
Ren Xiaosu immediately knew that he was hinting at getting some bribes.
Someone immediately took off his wristwatch. “Sir, this watch is a Soaring Bird. I just bought it last year.”
The officer immediately beamed and said, “Note his name… Is there anyone else who wants to be exempted from military or manual labor?”
Wang Fugui immediately went over and pulled the officer aside. “Sir, my name is Wang Fugui. I’ve got a 100 antibiotics and five branded watches over here. However, there are quite a few of us who would like to get exempted.”
When the officer heard that he had a 100 antibiotics, his eyes popped out of their sockets. When he heard he was being offered five watches as well, his eyes shone brightly!
Wang Fugui said softly, “The thing is, we have more than 20 students in our group. Just think about it, what are students capable of doing? They won’t be able to contribute at all. Besides, students are the foundation of our future. Wouldn’t it be such a waste for them to become soldiers or female workers?”
The officer looked at Wang Fugui. “The female students can be exempted but the male students can’t. To be honest, the bottom line is that all men of the right age must be conscripted. If I dare to overstep this line, I’ll get executed tomorrow.”
When Wang Fugui heard this, he started panicking. He couldn’t care less about other people, but Ren Xiaosu definitely couldn’t be conscripted. He pointed to Ren Xiaosu and said, “Didn’t you just exempt someone from military service?”
“To be honest with you, the person who was exempted is too old and not within the conscription requirements at all,” the officer said with a smile.
Old Wang could completely understand that manual labor could be exempted, but military service was unavoidable. The middle-aged man who handed over his watch had purely been taken for a sucker. He rephrased his words and said, “Look at that person over there. He might look young, but it’s only because he has kept his face well-maintained. I hope this won’t make it sound like a joke, but he’s actually my uncle.”
“Fuck.” The officer was chuckled. “Old Wang, can you be any more shameless than this? No means no. With these antibiotics and watches, I can only exempt the girls from their manual labor. But the men are all of suitable age, so they won’t be exempted from military service.”
Wang Fugui sighed. Wang Dalong and Yan Liuyuan did not have to be conscripted as they were too young. But based on the current situation, it was certain that Ren Xiaosu, Chen Wudi, and all eight of Jiang Wu’s male students would have no choice but to serve in the military.