Chapter 388 War fanatic
Since they had decided to attack Mt. Guan to lure the Mt. Dingyuan bandits out of their lair, they would have to quietly sneak into the valley in case their movements were discovered.
The Zong Consortium had spies all over the Northwest. Fortress 178 was planning to eliminate the bandits in the valley first in case they caused any trouble to the forward operating base when the real war began.
Zhang Xiaoman believed it would be harder to take Mt. Guan, but Ren Xiaosu did not think so. That was because some of the bandits had already died in the terrible earthquake when Yan Liuyuan’s curse hit them. He was guessing those bandits must have come from Mt. Guan.
At that time, they were in the vicinity of Mt. Kaolei, and the nearest bandit lairs were at Mt. Tangwang and Mt. Guan. However, the bandits at Mt. Tangwang had already been recruited by Wang Congyang. So the only possibility was that those bandits were from Mt. Guan.
However, Ren Xiaosu did not mention a word about this. It seemed that Fortress 178 did not know about the battle in the wilderness yet, as the Zong Consortium was still locking out the news.
Fortress 178 was between 5 and 600 kilometers away from that battlefield at that time. No matter how massive the explosions and firepower were, no one would hear anything if they were in the fortress.
But Ren Xiaosu knew that if it were really as he had guessed, Mt. Guan was definitely not going to be as difficult to overcome as they had thought. Instead, it would be much easier to attack than Mt. Dingyuan.
The Razor Sharp Company started behaving like mice when they suddenly abandoned their trucks and moved in the gullies with their guns and artillery supplies. By lying low in the daytime and only becoming active at night, they were trying their best not to get discovered by the enemy.
When they were resting in the shadows of the gullies during the day, Zhang Xiaoman said to Ren Xiaosu, “Although I don’t know what your superpower is, I’ll still believe you since you said you could put pressure on Mt. Guan. But you better not tell me that you can’t do it when we get there. If you can’t do it, I’ll be sure to shoot you regardless of who you are.”
Ren Xiaosu did not reply to him as he cradled his automatic rifle and lay against the gully with his eyes closed.
Everyone was slowly eating their field rations. As they were now secretly trying to enter the valley, they were not allowed to set up cooking fires.
But Zhang Xiaoman and the others were surprised by how Ren Xiaosu could bear more hardship than they could. While everyone was resting, they would always require rotations for sentry duty. The other soldiers were so sleepy they kept complaining, but Ren Xiaosu never once grumbled about anything. If he was asked to perform his sentry duty, he would just do it. He was also fine with it when he had to perform his duty for a little longer.
Zhang Xiaoman observed and realized that Ren Xiaosu was really serious and responsible when he was on sentry duty.
The Razor Sharp Company’s commander muttered, “As expected of someone chosen by the commander.”
Everyone was expecting something more from Ren Xiaosu, not because they had something against him, but because when they found out he could become the next commander, they wondered, ‘In what way is he better than me? Why should he be considered as a candidate for the role of commander?’
Meanwhile, Ren Xiaosu not only had to perform sentry duty, but he also took turns with everyone to carry the heavy machine guns and mortars during their march. The machine guns were really burdensome, and the mortars were only slightly lighter at about 15 kilograms each. Although it was very uncomfortable to carry them for long distances, it was still within acceptable limits.
Meanwhile, the 12.7 mm heavy machine guns weighed 25 kilograms each, and they even had to carry their own rucksacks too. The route they had to take to get to Mt. Guan and Mt. Dingyuan was still at least another 100 kilometers away, and the terrain was difficult to traverse. Some soldiers even got abrasions on their shoulders after carrying the weapons.
But Ren Xiaosu never once complained.
Ren Xiaosu looked very skinny at the moment because his Strength and Dexterity were balanced. At the beginning, Zhang Xiaoman deliberately made things difficult for Ren Xiaosu by making him suffer.
But to Zhang Xiaoman’s surprise, Ren Xiaosu was not careless at all when carrying the machine gun even though he looked thinner than all of them. He even volunteered to shoulder some of the burden for his comrades.
This was just how it was in the army. If you were tough and capable, you would get respected. If you were a weakling, you would get looked down on.
In just these few days of their march through the wilderness, everyone’s impression of Ren Xiaosu changed for the better. This kid was really tough and capable!
The soldiers of the Razor Sharp Company vaguely thought to themselves, ‘He’s too not bad after all.’
But it did not mean he had fully been accepted. Whether he was qualified to be the next commander would not depend only on physical strength and perseverance.
At this moment, Zhang Xiaoman did some calculations and said, “Mt. Guan is around 30 kilometers away from Mt. Dingyuan. If the bandits on Mt. Guan seek reinforcements from Mt. Dingyuan, those bandits will probably arrive in about half an hour. We have to dig trenches and set up an ambush on the road in advance. Or else we might not be able to defeat those fucking bandits.”
Ren Xiaosu said, “This gully is already a natural trench.”
“That’s true.” Zhang Xiaoman suddenly asked, “Are you really confident in putting pressure on Mt. Guan and forcing them to call for reinforcements?”
Ren Xiaosu said calmly, “I already pledged to do so.”
The signalers from the Razor Sharp Company were constantly in touch with the Forward Strike Battalion behind them. The Forward Strike Battalion had set off the day after the Razor Sharp Company had departed. At this moment, they should be 60 kilometers behind them.
However, the Forward Strike Battalion’s target was neither Mt. Guan nor Mt. Dingyuan. They had to set up a defensive line in the north to prevent the Zong Consortium’s counterattack on the south after they successfully took Mt. Guan and Mt. Dingyuan.
Of Fortress 178’s military corps, other than a full brigade that was tasked with staying behind to defend the fortress, the rest were preparing to head out to the battlefield.
Ren Xiaosu asked, “Captain, does the Zong Consortium really have 200,000 soldiers?”
Zhang Xiaoman said with a sneer, “How dare the Zong Consortium claim to have 200,000 soldiers when their territory is so small? Oh, wait, if we include the refugees and private troops they recruited into their forces, it seems there might really be 200,000 of them. But our Fortress 178 can fight down to our last soldier. The Zong Consortium’s so-called brigade would probably lose all their morale once a few hundred of their soldiers get killed.”
Only then did it dawn on Ren Xiaosu that the Zong Consortium was just like the Li Consortium. Not only did they draft the incapable refugees, but they recruited the incompetent private troops into their forces as well.
If the Qing Consortium did the same, Ren Xiaosu estimated they could come up with more than 400,000 troops.
But what was the use of such troops?
Ren Xiaosu asked, “Then how many real troops does the Zong Consortium have?”
“About 90,000.” Zhang Xiaoman said, “But this was intel from last year.”
Ren Xiaosu nodded. He suddenly felt that this battle was no longer that difficult to fight even though Fortress 178 only had 75,000 troops on the battlefield.
But why did it feel like Fortress 178 was not that strong? Was he getting a false impression?
Ren Xiaosu felt that there was something strange about this. If Fortress 178 only had these fighting forces, even if they could remain standing here in the Northwest, it would definitely not be enough to awe a real consortium.
Besides, Luo Lan had wanted to kill Zhang Jinglin, but Qing Zhen refused.
Did Qing Zhen allow Zhang Jinglin to return to the Northwest so he could keep the Zong Consortium in check, or was it because he wanted Zhang Jinglin to continue keeping guard for the humans in the interior and prevent another foreign war from breaking out?
Perhaps it could be for both reasons too. Ren Xiaosu felt that Qing Zhen might not be that fanatic who was only obsessed with fighting wars.