Chapter 407 Adapting to the situation
People tended to get fatigued very easily when fighting a battle. On the battlefield, one couldn’t sleep in peace, and only true warriors could endure such mental exhaustion.
As the third night approached, Zhang Xiaoman ordered a firearms inspection while he gave everyone a pep talk. “I want all of you to fill your magazines to full. We’ll be putting an end to this battle tonight. I know you’re all exhausted—”
“We aren’t, Captain.” Jiao Xiaochen chuckled and said, “Ren Xiaosu has been forging a safe path forward for us on the front lines all this while, and we’re just here acting as his support, so we don’t feel tired at all.”
Zhang Xiaoman was speaking his most commonly used lines to motivate the troops before the final battle. Essentially, the closing stages of a battle was when it would get most dangerous, so he was hoping to lift the spirits of his troops and let them face the fight in tiptop condition.
He was never one to be good at giving pep talks. Therefore, he thought it would be better to speak while everyone was resting. But in the end, it turned out to be totally unnecessary.
After two days of high-intensity fighting, the soldiers of the Razor Sharp Company were each more pumped up than the last.
This was unlike any of the battles they had fought in the past. They’d never had it so easy before.
Zhang Xiaoman said with a sigh, “Forget it. Let’s just get it over and done with. Everyone, take note. Battalion Commander Zhou and the other commanders suspect they hid some very destructive weapon systems inside this town. So if the enemy gets forced into a corner on the final day of battle, they might choose to activate those weapons.”
Ren Xiaosu asked, “Did Battalion Commander Zhou say what might be hidden in this town?”
“Probably weapons like artillery or something.” Zhang Xiaoman said, “We still lack good intelligence gathering at Fortress 178, so we don’t have a clear idea of how large the garrison here is or what weapons they have.”
On the intelligence gathering front, Ren Xiaosu really admired the Qing Consortium. Qing Zhen had made a most comprehensive preparation for the war and thought about potential futures as well.
Meanwhile, over at Fortress 178, the entire stronghold ran in a near leaderless state after Zhang Jinglin went away for more than a decade.
Although there was a stand-in commander during that period, he was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. As a result, the Northwestern man who had risen through the ranks of the military was mainly focused on ensuring their military readiness by constantly training and cycling the troops. He did not really develop the economy nor establish any intelligence gathering infrastructure, as those were not aspects he was good at.
During the day, the defenders of Shichuan Village launched a wave of frenzied attacks against the Fortress 178 troops. But after that wave was repulsed, there were no signs of activity from them anymore.
At that time, Zhang Xiaoman thought the Zong Consortium had learned their lesson after being beaten back. However, the shadow clone Ren Xiaosu had left outside started lurking behind enemy lines. He discovered the Shichuan defenders had slowly retreated during the attack.
Ren Xiaosu thought about it carefully. This attack probably acted as cover so the troops behind them could withdraw from the town, right? Only by retreating this way would Zhang Xiaoman and the others not detect them. But why were the defenders of Shichuan Village retreating?
Ren Xiaosu did not have time to think too much. “Captain, why don’t we retreat?”
“Retreat? We just won the battle and you’re calling for us to retreat?” Zhang Xiaoman asked in surprise.
“There’s danger here,” Ren Xiaosu said in a serious tone.
Zhang Xiaoman frowned. “We headed out here to the front line precisely because there’s danger, so how can we retreat? And if we retreat too far, much of the ground we gained will be lost for nothing.”
“The Shichuan Village defenders in the rear are retreating right now. There must a reason for that!” Ren Xiaosu said.
“How do you know they’re retreating? Haven’t you been here all this while?” Zhang Xiaoman waved it off. “We’ve fought all the way here, so we can’t retreat!”
“If we managed it before, we can do it again.” Ren Xiaosu said anxiously, “Let’s retreat! What if the Zong Consortium bombards the entire town with artillery?”.
“How could that be possible? We only have three companies storming this town. If they bombard the area with artillery, that’ll be no different from shooting a mosquito with a cannon.”
Zhang Xiaoman was just about to keep speaking when he realized he had been lifted up by Ren Xiaosu. Zhang Xiaoman was alarmed. “Put me down!”
However, Ren Xiaosu ignored what he was saying. He picked up Zhang Xiaoman and sprinted for the periphery of the town.
The action he took dumbfounded everyone in the Razor Sharp Company. Zhang Xiaoman roared on Ren Xiaosu’s shoulder, “Put me down, Ren Xiaosu. If you disobey my order, I’ll kill you!”
Ren Xiaosu said as he ran, “If there were only three companies here, the Zong Consortium definitely wouldn’t have fought so hard. But if the Zong Consortium knew that I was here as well, that would be different.”
Zhang Xiaoman was stunned. For a while, he did not understand what Ren Xiaosu was trying to get at.
Meanwhile, the Razor Sharp Company, Second Company, and Third Company were still caught in a daze. Zhang Xiaoman suddenly sighed on Ren Xiaosu’s shoulder and shouted, “Let’s all retreat! Ren Xiaosu, if you don’t give me a satisfactory explanation afterwards, I’ll be sure to court-martial you.”
All the soldiers and officers looked at one another. What else could they do but retreat?
When they retreated all the way outside of Shichuan Village, Ren Xiaosu still kept on running for another two kilometers before stopping
Zhang Xiaoman nearly vomited from the bumpy ride on Ren Xiaosu’s shoulder. Putting everything else aside, Ren Xiaosu’s stamina was amazing. He ran several kilometers while carrying a person weighing over 50 kilograms without any problem!
But just as Ren Xiaosu placed Zhang Xiaoman on the ground, the Razor Sharp Company saw a huge fireball erupt in Shichuan Village. Explosions also burst from afar.
Even though they were several kilometers away, everyone could feel the ground shaking.
It was not an artillery bombardment. In fact, an artillery bombardment was not even required. The explosives left behind by the defenders of Shichuan Village was all it took for the entire abandoned town to get swallowed in a sea of fire.
Zhang Xiaoman stared at this sight in a daze. “How fucking evil! If we didn’t leave, I bet all three of our companies would’ve died.”
He did not pursue the issue of Ren Xiaosu forcefully carrying him away. At this moment, the soldiers from Second Company and Third Company were looking at the sea of fire with lingering fear in their minds.
Because of the explosions, everyone heard ringing in their ears.
“How did you know the enemy retreated?” Zhang Xiaoman looked at Ren Xiaosu curiously.
“I don’t wanna talk about it,” Ren Xiaosu answered bluntly.
“Alright.” Zhang Xiaoman did not probe further. Instead, he thought for a moment before saying, “But you still have to listen to orders in the future. Have you forgotten that I said,”
“Captain, you said that we had to know how to adapt to the situation,” interrupted Ren Xiaosu
Zhang Xiaoman looked at Jiao Xiaochen. “Did I say that?”
Jiao Xiaochen answered honestly, “Yes, sir.”
Zhang Xiaoman laughed. This was the joy of having survived a disaster. He solemnly said to Ren Xiaosu, “Thank you.”
“Gratitude received from Zhang Xiaoman, +1!”
This was truly a lifesaving act. Had it not been for Ren Xiaosu’s quick reaction, all three companies would have been wiped out in the explosions.
No matter how you put it, Ren Xiaosu’s arrival had certainly given their lives greater security.
Meanwhile, Ren Xiaosu looked at his gratitude log in the palace and turned his gaze to the others.