Chapter 382 To fight or not to fight
Fortress 178’s sole existence was for the purpose of war. Therefore, it was destined to be different from the other strongholds ever since its emergence.
There were no shops selling a variety of things in the streets, nor were there any particularly well-dressed pedestrians. Some girls had already changed into long skirts for the spring season, but even their long dresses were made out of calico fabric.
The clothes of those in the fortress were very monotone and were mainly in shades of dark blue, dark green, or yellow.
At present, the textile dyeing techniques in Fortress 178 were still stuck at the most basic level. After wearing the clothes for some time, the color would start fading.
Just as Wang Shengyin had said, the Northwest was one of the most suitable places for growing cotton. However, there was a lack of that technology here. All of their focus was instead placed into developing their military industry, as well as trying their best to ensure that everyone had something to eat.
So who would have the time to involve themselves with bells and whistles?
After Xu Xianchu left, Ren Xiaosu, Wang Shengzhi, and the others walked out of the building and carefully sized up this legendary fortress.
The pedestrians on the street turned to look at them when they saw them, because other than Ren Xiaosu, the group looked a little out of place.
Wang Shengyin had also changed into a long dress, but the blue dress did not look like it could be produced here in the fortress. Wang Shengyin said that this blue was called Tiffany Blue, and it was a very popular color back in the Central Plains, as a female singer had worn it before.
Ren Xiaosu thought there probably wouldn’t be celebrity singers in Fortress 178. The women he saw in Fortress 178 were all carrying a pole with baskets on both ends just like the men.
Ren Xiaosu suddenly asked Wang Shengzhi, “How do you think Mr. Zhang will handle the Zong Consortium?”
Wang Shengzhi raised his head and smiled. “You’re hoping that Fortress 178 will help you get your revenge?”
“That’s right,” Ren Xiaosu admitted frankly. “But if it’s not Fortress 178’s own decision, I don’t want to drag others down with me either. I can still manage a lot of things by myself.”
Ren Xiaosu thought that if Fortress 178 was unwilling to send in their troops against the Zong Consortium and clear out the obstruction to the trade routes, he would have to infiltrate the Zong Consortium himself.
Anything Li Shentan could do, he could probably do as well.
Wang Shengzhi smiled and said, “Look at these pedestrians on the street.”
“Hm?” Ren Xiaosu was taken aback.
“Everyone’s taking the food in their homes out with carrying poles. But where are they taking it?” Wang Shengzhi asked.
“To sell?” Ren Xiaosu said.
“The farmers live outside the fortress, while these are normal residents, so why would they be selling their food?” Wang Shengzhi said with a smile, “They’ve gathered up all the food they stored away to donate it to the military of Fortress 178.”
“Why, though?” Ren Xiaosu was stunned. He really did not understand military matters. He had encountered an Advanced Army Warfare Leadership skill user but did not have a Skill Duplication Scroll on him to learn it at the time.
“This is Fortress 178’s preparation for war. All the food has been handed over to the garrison troops to be allocated during the war,” Wang Shengzhi explained with a smile. “If you’ve already decided on taking revenge against the Zong Consortium, you can put your mind at ease. If Mr. Zhang hadn’t thought over it carefully, he wouldn’t have asked me to come to the Northwest. He’s already made his decision.”
Fortress 178 sought to sell off their large mineral deposits to make the lives of the fortress residents better and obtain better military armaments as well. As such, they had to open the trade routes.
But the Zong Consortium would never allow all this to happen. Why would they allow outsiders to sleep soundly next to their beds? This was the inevitable outcome caused by the growth and development of an organization with a vested interest.
In a run-down meeting room in Fortress 178, a group of officers were arguing endlessly around a large sand table. Zhou Yinglong shouted, “I’ve long disliked the Zong Consortium. I’m sure everyone already knows those old fogeys at the Zong Consortium have deployed their weapons and troops to face our Fortress 178. What do you think they intend to do? I don’t have to elaborate, right?”
“Everyone understands.” Someone said, “When I made a trip to the valley awhile ago, I discovered the Qing Consortium was also stirring up trouble there. However, Qing Zhen is not targeting our Fortress 178 in his schemes. All of his people have gone to attack the Yang Consortium, leaving only the Zong Consortium with a presence in the valley.”
“If we want to open the trade routes, it would be best to build it on the path that goes through Mt. Dingyuan. Wasn’t it a highway before The Cataclysm? That would be the fastest route to take. But Mt. Dingyuan is still being controlled by the Zong Consortium’s bandits, while Mt. Guan to its north acts as the Zong Consortium’s forward operating base,” Xu Xianchu analyzed. “So, even if we don’t attack the Zong Consortium directly, we still have to take back control of the front line at Mt. Dingyuan and Mt. Guan.”
“How do we do that?” Zhou Yinglong replied, “We don’t have enough manpower. We can fight, but occupying the territories is a bit of a stretch. How many people would you have to deploy there to guard against the Zong Consortium’s raids? And when the Zong Consortium cuts off the retreat route at Mt. Dingyuan, the soldiers there will immediately be left to fend for themselves. Just thinking about it makes me despair.”
“That’s right, Old Zhou’s argument makes sense. No one takes a long-term defensive position.” A burly man said, “The Zong Consortium is right in front of us. Those bastards have become too restless in recent years and are constantly fixated on Fortress 178 being their imaginary enemy. In the past, we stood guard at Fortress 178 to defend against the western enemies. It seems they’ve already forgotten all about the kindness that we’ve shown them!”
For the whole night, the entire conference room was noisy as everyone chipped in with their opinions. It was heated.
Meanwhile, Zhang Jinglin stood next to the sand table and looked quietly at the terrain mapped out on it. The sand table covered the entire Southwest and Northwest and even included a small area of the Central Plains.
All of a sudden, someone said, “But what if the western enemies come again while we’re attacking the Zong Consortium?”
Everyone started looking at one another. Zhou Yinglong hesitated and said, “They haven’t been here in 16 years. Wouldn’t that be too coincidental?”
The person who spoke up calmly said, “Because of the differences in our skin, hair, and ethnicity, our people have never been able to infiltrate their camp. By the same logic, they’re also unable to infiltrate our camp. Thus, neither side knows anything that’s going on at the other end, so how can you be so sure they won’t come? What if it’s really that coincidental? Then we’ll be stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Fortress 178 had not been paying much attention to the Zong Consortium in many years, but it wasn’t because they were willing to accept this hyena’s insolence right at their doorstep. Rather, they had a more important mission that left them unable to spread their forces too thin.
Zhou Yinglong and the others felt a little aggrieved. They had to accept that their mission came first.
The Zong Consortium, the Qing Consortium, the Yang Consortium, and even the Central Plains were not required to thank them for it, but a mission was a mission.
Suddenly, Zhang Jinglin said, “We will fight.”
The meeting room fell silent. Everyone could hear each other’s breathing. There was a glimmer in the eyes of Zhou Yinglong and the others as their cheeks flushed red. It was the rush of blood they would experience before every big battle.
Regardless of the points of view brought up in the meeting room, or how different all of their opinions were, only Zhang Jinglin’s words mattered.
Once Zhang Jinglin had made his decision, it meant that war was inevitable.