The First Order - Chapter 1248
It was as though a god had splattered the ground in the Northwest with khaki paint.
The viscous paint then solidified on the ground and formed into yellowish mountain ranges and hills and gullies.
As the long stretch of the 6th Field Division’s convoy passed through the area, it looked like a group of ants going out to find food. Vehicle by vehicle, the convoy stretched out into the distance.
But just as they were about to pass through Xiushui Ridge, thousands of enemy troops suddenly surrounded them from the wilderness. These enemy troops had advanced on foot, but their speed far exceeded that of normal soldiers. Moreover, silvery blood vessels could be seen on their faces.
When Ren Xiaosu retreated with Qing Zhen and company, Luo Lan keenly noticed the number of nanosoldiers had decreased by a 1,000.
Meanwhile, these 1,000 missing soldiers, as well as the Wang Consortium’s special forces, had carried out their infiltration here in advance.
Wang Yun and P5092 had selected an optimal location to be the battlefield this time. Since it was the best terrain, the artificial intelligence could naturally predict they would choose this place as well.
The artificial intelligence had too long to plan, so not only did it retain the Qing Consortium’s nanosoldiers, but it also turned the Wang Consortium’s special forces into nanosoldiers.
It also allocated the 40 mm grenade launchers of the Wang Consortium’s troops to these special forces.
This army consisting of nanosoldiers was extremely mobile and possessed powerful combat capability in a head-on battle.
One by one, the nanosoldiers cloaked in yellow camo quickly surrounded the convoy. They did not communicate with each other and remained silent throughout.
At this moment, all of the satellites above this mountainous region were gradually drifting farther and farther away.
Normally, when the satellite signals weakened, Zero’s control over those puppets would also weaken.
However, these troops were still very single-minded in their objective and did not lose focus just because the satellites had drifted far away.
P5092 had a hypothesis about this.
He thought that when the satellite signals weakened, these troops would become an independent network of their own. The nanomachines would control the soldiers’ nerve centers and subconsciously plant Zero’s established plan in them.
To a certain extent, it was as though they were hypnotized. Although they were no longer under Zero’s direct control, they still had some kind of compulsion within them.
This compulsion would urge them to complete their objectives.
Then, when the satellites returned overhead again, the execution data of these people would be uploaded, and they would return under the control of the artificial intelligence yet again.
Of course, all of this was just P5092’s hypothesis. Actually, Qing Zhen was right about one thing. The current methods employed by the artificial intelligence were probably already beyond their grasp.
After these elite nanotroops approached the convoy, they did not engage in a direct clash. Instead, they decisively used their grenade launchers and bombarded the convoy of several hundred trucks.
Therefore, most troops would try their best to avoid using grenade launchers at an extreme range of 400 meters.
But it was different for these elite troops. Even at a distance of 380 meters, they could still accurately hit the moving vehicles.
It was as though all the trajectories had been calculated. They were so precise it was terrifying.
These nearly 1,500 nanosoldiers roamed the wilderness like robots with a clear division of tasks. In just two minutes, they destroyed more than half of the 6th Field Division’s vehicles.
The vehicles burst into fireballs one after another, and it was as though the mountain range had suddenly turned into a scene of carnage. The sound of bombardment and explosions could be heard nonstop.
The mountain path was narrow and only wide enough for one truck to pass through at a time.
These nanosoldiers were also very particular about where they attacked from. They were scattered at the front and end of the mountain path and destroyed the convoy’s head and tail respectively. At this moment, the vehicles sandwiched in the middle were stuck and immobile. They could only stay in place while being attacked.
Moreover, the mountain path was located on low, concave terrain, so the enemy nanosoldiers on the mountain ridges on both sides could freely suppress the enemy from above as they wished.
But at this moment, the nanosoldiers seemed to have realized something was off. There were only drivers in those vehicles, but the cargo areas were carrying no one.
The nanosoldiers immediately wanted to make use of the terrain to retreat. But when they turned around, they realized the 6th Field Division had already surrounded them from behind.
At this moment, the 6th Field Division was divided into four fighting forces. One of them was led by the Riders, and another was led by 22 T5 combatants. They were like two sharp knives that stabbed straight into the nanosoldiers’ formation.
The nanosoldiers were physically very strong, but even at their peak, they were only on par with the T3-ranked combatants.
Meanwhile, what the 6th Field Division lacked the least were strong individuals.
The former Pyro Company soldiers were also war machines that had undergone training for many years.
In just ten minutes, these two sharp knives tore through the nanosoldiers’ formation and forced them to fight in smaller groups. The entire battle quickly became one-sided.
Of the other two fighting forces, one was led by Ji Zi’ang, Wang Yun, and Zhang Xiaoman and surrounded the flanks, while the other protected P5092 while he carried out the overall command of the battle.
Ji Zi’ang manipulated a wave of soil to hide the advancement of the troops. In guerrilla warfare, a mobile defensive bunker like this really was a hack.
In the past, infantry troops had always relied on tanks as their mobile defensive fortifications. In modern warfare, infantry combat tactics would always revolve around armored vehicles and tanks.
Right now, with armored troops unable to drive into this mountainous terrain, Ji Zi’ang’s mobile defensive bunker would become the enemy’s nightmare.
This was the impasse P5092 had prepared for these nanosoldiers. He did not intend to let any of them leave this place alive.
With such an elite force controlled by the artificial intelligence in the rear of the Northwest, it could turn critical if they were to suicidally destroy the Northwest’s supply lifeline. P5092 could not possibly allow them to pose a threat to the Northwest.
P5092 was very sure that a group of enemy troops had already infiltrated the rear while they were organizing their retreat.
The first target of this guerrilla warfare was this infiltration force.
Actually, even Ren Xiaosu’s alertness when he went to pick up Qing Zhen was due to P5092’s reminder, so how could P5092 possibly be careless enough to let others ambush him?
Those vehicles were just bait for the nanosoldiers.
However, the cost of using the vehicles as a decoy this time was a little heavy. P5092 had made a lot of preparations, but the artificial intelligence’s micromanagement ability was way too precise. The grenade launchers equipped by the nanosoldiers easily destroyed more than half of the convoy from afar.
P5092 realized that fighting against such troops required—no, it was necessary to forget everything he learned from his past battles.
That was because the enemy this time was much stronger than the ones he faced in the past.
At this moment, Xun Yeyu was still standing next to P5092 and reporting the movements of all the nanosoldiers to him.
It had to be said that Xun Yeyu’s role as a mobile human radar had an even greater effect than he imagined.
The 6th Field Division relied on Xun Yeyu to locate the nanosoldiers and lure them into battle at the most suitable terrain to wipe them out in one fell swoop.
The nanosoldiers were without their eye in the sky, while the 6th Field Division seemed to be able to see the future. Zero probably did not expect it would be forced into a battle with outdated information and that it would be the weaker side.
More than an hour later, the 6th Field Division won this minor skirmish with the least casualties.
Zhang Xiaoman and the others said happily,
The AI isn’t that great after all. There’s nothing to be afraid of!
But Zhang Xiaoman suddenly realized P5092 was still frowning.
He asked curiously,
Didn’t we just win the battle? Why are you frowning? You look like everyone owes you money or something.
P5092 shook his head.
Although we won, the AI might not have lost.
There will always be a victor and a loser.
Zhang Xiaoman said,
So what are you going on about?
In Go, there’s the concept of the sacrifice. Determining victory or defeat is a very long-term matter, and it’s not enough to only think about the present. Wang Yun, if it were you, could you tell from a distance if the trucks were carrying people in them?
Wang Yun nodded and answered,
If I examine carefully, I should be able to. When the trucks are full of soldiers, the suspension and undercarriage height will be very different. I remember what an empty vehicle looks like, and what a fully loaded vehicle looks like, so of course it can be differentiated…. Are you saying the AI actually knew there was no one in the trucks?
What if it hadn’t noticed?
Wang Yun asked.
Don’t take any chances.
P5092 shook his head and said,
The AI will not make such a low-level mistake, so it would’ve known from the beginning there was no one in the trucks.
Then why did it still take the bait?
Wang Yun asked.
It meant to destroy our vehicles right from the beginning.
In guerrilla warfare, mobility represented everything.
If you wanted to engage in guerrilla warfare but got caught by the enemy after just firing the first shot, that would not be called guerrilla warfare but suicide.
Therefore, P5092 did not allow the group of AI-controlled elite troops at the Northwest’s rear to interfere, and likewise, the artificial intelligence did not allow the 6th Field Division to do as it wished at its rear.
As such, it immediately destroyed most of the 6th Field Division’s vehicles at the expense of its nanosoldiers.
Initially, P5092 did not think of this either. He only realized it when Zhang Xiaoman called the enemy
in his report, stating that it still wanted to blow up the empty vehicles even though it was already on the verge of losing.
Only at this moment did P5092 realize this battle was actually just an exchange of chips between the two sides. It could not be called an absolute victory at all.
The other party deliberately destroyed the trucks. This means that as long as we don’t have any vehicles, continuing the guerrilla warfare will be no different from a death wish for us. The AI must still have a contingency plan waiting for us.
Then let’s retreat to the rear.
Zhang Xiaoman said,
In any case, we’ve already won the opening battle.
P5092 said firmly,
We’re pursuing the final victory, so how can we get complacent over a fleeting victory? We have to continue the guerrilla warfare. In two days, even if the 6th Field Division gets wiped out, we have to hold the rear line!
Zhang Xiaoman, Wang Yun, and the others were stunned. Could it be that P5092 was planning on leading everyone to their deaths?
P5092 suddenly said,
Black Fox, come forward!
Black Fox took a step forward and said firmly,
I’m ordering you to get the fighting force of the Pyro Company reorganized within half an hour. You will be the highest-ranking commander for the remaining hit-and-run attacks and are to harass the enemy’s flanks. Remember, you have to buy two days for the rearline forces!
Black Fox answered loudly,
Yes, sir! We’ll definitely complete the mission and buy two days for our forces at the rear!
Even without vehicles, the 6th Field Division still had people, and they were all powerful individuals at that.
The genetic warriors of the Pyro Company’s fighting force were all twice as strong as normal people, and these were only the weakest soldiers.
Therefore, even without vehicles, the Pyro Company’s fighting force could still engage in guerrilla warfare.
However, it was not the same for the other, normal soldiers of the 6th Field Division. By leading them into guerrilla warfare, they would become a burden instead. Everyone’s physical fitness would not be able to withstand the long-distance raids and retreats.
Wait a minute.
Zhang Xiaoman said in shock,
Won’t you just be sending them to their deaths? Why do you insist on letting them fight instead of going yourself?
P5092 looked at Zhang Xiaoman.
I’m the commander-in-chief of the 6th Field Division. You all only need to obey whatever I say. Do not question me.
Zhang Xiaoman kept quiet. He knew he had to give P5092 the highest respect since he was a military man himself.
The former soldiers of the Pyro Company’s fighting force no longer have any family. Even if they die, not many families will be saddened. Moreover, the most important thing is that after the Pyro Company soldiers underwent genetic modification, their lifespans were more or less affected. You all have also heard about it before, right? The maximum lifespan of a T5 combatant is 40 years. So, for them, compared to the quality of life, it’s more worthwhile for them to fight.
Everyone fell silent. They did not expect P5092 to measure the soldiers’ value based on how long they had to live.
However, P5092 continued,
Moreover, the reproductive ability of genetically modified soldiers has also been affected. After this calamity, humanity will struggle for some time to recuperate. If too many people die and the ones who survive in the end are the genetically modified soldiers, the fate humanity faces will be no different from extinction. So they should be the ones making the sacrifice. All they’ve been fighting for throughout their lives has been the survival of humanity.
Zhang Xiaoman was speechless. Faced with P5092’s absolute rationality and calmness at this moment, he did not know how to refute him and could only feel stifled inside.
Could it be that P5092 did not feel sad when he made such a decision? Could it be that he did not feel guilty for being so decisive about making his subordinates sacrifice themselves? They were all comrades, so they should at least die in battle together.
It was not only Zhang Xiaoman who thought this way but almost everyone else too, except for Black Fox.
Black Fox was wearing a black Northwest Army uniform. He said with a sincere smile,
Commander P5092, there’s nothing wrong with what you said. That’s what we’ve always believed in all our lives, so we won’t find it regrettable to sacrifice ourselves for this purpose. We’re soldiers, and soldiers should aim for victory in war and not act on impulse.
Zhang Xiaoman looked at Black Fox in a daze. That was death he was about to face!
As a matter of fact, Black Fox would not have Wang Yun, Xun Yeyu, or Ji Zi’ang fighting by his side this time.
No matter how strong the Pyro Company’s fighting force was, it would still have to face the terrifying artificial intelligence. Even with their impressive physical fitness, it would not be enough for them to escape from the millions of enemy troops.
Actually, everyone knew if it were they who went to the flanks to harass Zero’s army at this moment, they would definitely die.
The probability of survival was likely even lower than winning the lottery.
At this moment, P5092 looked at Black Fox and asked in seriousness,
Do you remember what I asked you during your interview back then?
Black Fox was stunned for a moment before smiling brightly.
That afternoon, P5092 was seated in the dark Room 155. The only sunlight had entered through a very small gap in the thick curtains.
If you were to return to the time of the military exercise to take Position 881 again, would you still lead your men forward to die?
Black Fox’s answer was:
Remember your choice today.
And thus, from that day onwards, Black Fox was prepared. After stepping out of Room 155, he visited the drill grounds and chow hall of the military academy. He even made a trip back to the stronghold to remember all the places he used to live in before waiting for this day to arrive.
P5092 said this was the fate of being in the Pyro Company. Even though there had been disagreements within the Pyro Company before, fate was still fate.
After Black Fox reorganized the Pyro Company’s fighting force, he set out. Meanwhile, P5092 led the remaining soldiers of the 6th Field Division to retreat to the rear on foot.
P5092 walked at the front of the group without saying a word.
Zhang Xiaoman looked at P5092’s back from behind and could not help but ask in a low voice,
Did the Pyro Company teach you to treat your soldiers with such ruthlessness?
But a second later, Zhang Xiaoman was stunned.
When P5092 turned around to look at him, Zhang Xiaoman only saw his face covered in tears.
What do you think war is?
This was the second time P5092 had asked Zhang Xiaoman this question, but it sounded like a rhetorical question asked of himself instead.