Vol. 16: Chapter 08 – Before the War

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Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly

The pack of officers slowed their pace at 20 horse-length beyond Cohen, then approached, the whole dozen of them, a silver star on each of their arms. They represented the best of the best in Kheda’s army.

“Sir,” Wilder urged his stallion to the lead, forcing the Chief of Staff’s stud aside, put on a huge smile, “I miss you, man!”

“It’s Your Grace!” Martin Luther urged his mount onward, slapping Wilder’s back of head with his steady palm, “One more chance, now.”

“Your Grace.” Wilder instantly grew droopy. Reckless he was in the army, Wilder would always behave in front of General Luther.

“Too early to call me that way. I’ll allow him. Thankfully our military supervisor is not around.” Cohen nodded to each officer.

“Sir, we’ve waited days.” Carlos caughted up and returned Cohen’s greeting, “Your two brothers were supposed to join us on today’s meeting. But Prince Rick Kheda and Prince Swift Kheda couldn’t escape their respective provincial affairs, they’ll be absent. However, they shall catch up right before our operation.”

“Let them be. We have more important things to discuss.” Cohen said, “Let’s talk inside.”

As they rode deep into the training ground, the horses halted at a closely guarded cabin. Malphite set the guarding posts. Leila was behind Cohen’s steps.

“Sir, she is?” Moya asked, “Is she allowed to join?”

“Yes.” Cohen said, “The Chancellor, and the IA Supervisors have approved her. She’s my personal guard now. Wherever I go, she goes.”

Leila retrieved Cohen’s helm and cloak then retreated to corner, her face remained calm, did not react to Cohen’s inappropriate words.

“Good, now sit down, everyone.” Cohen found his spot, “Meeting starts. Chief of Staff, go on.”

“Yes, sir.” Carlos stood up, “Here’s a summary of our Dark City army.”

“The total number of soldiers in our army is 160, 000, calculated today.” Carlos simply disregarded the papers, for he couldn’t be more familiar with Cohen’s army. “Due to the lack of prep time, we’ll retain the original Dark City’s military structure for this operation. That is, 3 legions, the staff department, and its direct subordinating troops.”

“The coming operation won’t put much pressure on the defending job of Dark City, Darkmoon, and Lissan. Commander Cohen’s instruction clearly stated it’s gonna be a multi-regional attack, therefore, the defense work will be less troublesome.” Carlos then faced Martin Luther, “The Commanding Officer of all 3 provinces is Lieutenant General Martin Luther. He’ll be in charge of the rest troops aside from Legion 1, 2, and 3 and deploy the defense. The total number for this army is 90, 000, 40 in Darkmoon, 30 in Dark City, and 20 in Lissandra.”

“General Luther, 90, 000 soldiers for 3 provinces, will there be a problem?” Cohen inquired, “The soldiers outside the 3 legions are less well-trained and equipped.”

“It won’t be a problem. Those soldiers cannot match your Dark Army, nevertheless, they’re soldiers who survived standard training.” Martin Luther replied, “I have differentiated defense sectors in each province. Even if they’re faced with foreign forces, I’m confident to hold until our army take the capital.”

“I’ve much relieved.” Cohen said, “Carlos, carry on.”

“Yes sir. Now, attack troops. During the past 4 months, despite all the difficulties, we’ve mustered a new batch of recruits. They have all finished their training. So we’re adding 40, 000 on top of the 12.” Carlos continued, “The First Legion has 10 guarding troops, 4 assault infantry troops, 4 field troops, 4 special forces, an engineer corp, a command group, making the final count of heads to 60, 000. Our Commander has the lead.”

“Next is the Second Legion, led by Brigadier General Wilder.” Carlos hinted at the sturdy man, “The Second Legion has unparalleled combat power. There’re 8 mounted rider regiments, 2 field troops, an engineer corp, a scouting regiment, and a command group, making the final count to 50, 000.”

“The Third Legion is led by Brigadier General Moya. It has the most defense power. There’re 8 field infantry troops, 2 assault infantry troops, 2 mounted rider regiments, an engineer corp, a scouting regiment, and a command group, making the final counting to 40, 000.”

“Finally, the Staffs have comprehensive commanding functions supported by 3 guarding troops, 3 scouting regiments, 2 special forces, massing 30, 000.” Carlos nodded at Cohen, “The rest of duties such as military intelligence, army law, logistics are transferred to IA. These are our basic assets. We still have some unfinished new recruits. They can make 6~8 backup regiments.”

Cohen told Carlos to sit down then eyed his subordinates.

“Now, talk your ideas.” Cohen could tell all the men were exciting, “How are the conditions of your respective troops, gears, morale. Wilder.”

“Yes, boss.” Wilder grinned, “I never worry about morale in my legion. We’ve updated all gears last month. No more AUF  worn-outs. Oh, the freshmen have finished their training…”

“Enough, I was at your training ground today. Your men were pretty bold. Tell me, what is ‘you’re hurt, you keep on fighting’?” Cohen interrupted Wilder, “Do you have any ideas how much it cost me to train a soldier? I see your army tends to teach your men how to kill themselves instead of staying alive. Clearly, we’d like to see bravery and firmness in a soldier, but we don’t say that!”

Wilder made a dry laugh, scratched his hair, didn’t know what to say.

“Carlos, get 50 supervisors. See to that Wilder’s subordinates never say anything like that again. Wilder, if I get one more report such as this, get your ass and your men’s to Lord Justice’s back yard, do I make myself clear?”

“Sir, yes, sir. I’ll inform them.” Wilder was dull on his face.

Cohen then looked to the rest of the officers to see if they have other questions, none so far.

“Marfa,” Cohen said, “tell us about the enemies.”

“Yes, sir.” In a suit of a new uniform, Brigadier General Marfa stood up, “Till today, the rebels’ provision transportation was still ongoing. The enemy’s defense line has expanded outward from Divine City, along the commercial routes that connect Dark City. The defense system has two parts: the periphery ring consists of forces from rival provinces. The total enemy number of this one is more than 80, 000. These are just plain armies, what lies behind them is the hard job. There, we have the rebel’s elite forces. Luhrmann accumulated 90, 000 to defend the capital only. What’s more, there are two backup mobile infantries, totaling 80, 000.”

“Unscroll that map.” Cohen stood up, “Let see what they’re after.”

Marfa began marking on the map with a pen, “Here, here, and there.” Marfa also wrote down the number of soldiers he discovered on each spot he marked, “They still have some smart guys. See, they’ve anticipated our coming attack so here’s the battleground they drew for us. We have planned 3 routes to DC, and they’ve covered all of them. Either route we go, we’ll be facing enemies from two, even three directions.”

“Yes, this enemy commander is indeed experienced. He put his defense at just the right place.” Martin Luther said, “Since we’re unable to add extra soldiers to our attack force, it’ll be extremely troublesome once we’re hindered.”

“Indeed, Luhrmann’s army has been building up the defense.” Marfa said, eyes on Cohen, “He’s called back most of the troops in the fields. Other troops have withdrawn into the city. I suspect he plans to wear us down with these cities’ high walls.”

“What do you think, my king?” said Martin Luther.

“If this map is up-to-date, I trust, it’ll be an unnecessary long outer defense line. Therefore, there’ll be fewer soldiers at each spot. It shouldn’t be hard to breakthrough.” Cohen put a hand on the map, “Behind the outer defense line is what makes it interesting. All the armies are cuddling in here, here, and there. I suspect that they want to trap us between these two defense lines and suffer the attack from both directions. What do you think?”

“I suppose, yes. It is very standard deployments.” Luther affirmed Cohen’s idea then offered his, “However, it’s a conventional yet innovative deployment. I’m puzzled about the location layout.”

Cohen crossed his arms, eyes fixed on the map, started pacing back and forth in the room.

“If the rebels hide their elite forces in the towns and cities among the outter defense ring, such a plan would be very toxic.” Cohen whispered his idea, “Marfa, I need you to do another thorough recon of the outer defense line. Spare some regiments from the first and second legion, do a trial assault. I want to know what they’re hiding there. If my guess proves to be right, we’ll have to re-do this plan.”

“What if you’re wrong?” Wilder asked.

“Then Luhrmann has put his trust in the wrong hand, or the rebel’s commander is simply a moron.” Cohen smiled, “Whatever the case is, we’ll be marching into DC soon.”

“How come Luhrmann trusts the wrong person? He’s not stupid.” Moya asked, “Why would any of his subordinates act against him. It doesn’t make sense.”

“Too many crazy people, and too many crazy things.” Cohen tapped his brothers on the shoulder.

“Well then, boss,” Wilder couldn’t care less about the crazy people, he just wanted to be the first to attack, “What’s your big plan. And what’s my job?”

“Easy there, soldier.” Cohen snatched a pen, “Assuming nothing bad happens, we’ll attack when the summer harvest is over.” The tip of the pen slowly traveled on the map, “I’ll lead the first legion, marching deep into the rebels’ territory from the left. There is a significant amount of mid to big cities along the route and long travel distance in between. The first legion will like it. It shouldn’t be a problem winning.”

All officers nodded to agree.

“Wilder, I need you to take half of your troopers and assist the attack on my right.” Cohen’s pen drew another line, “Here, this path is close to flatlands, low hills or humps, without many major cities or towns. Your riders can march through easily. You’ll start two days after me. By the time I reach DC, you can even surpass 200 miles ahead of me.”

“Excellent,” Wilder was excited, “what about the other half.”

“Your sub-commander and the other half of your army will set off to Whimper immediately. On arrival, a fleet will be waiting for you. You’re coming ashore here.” Cohen crossed a point on the map, “Then strike the back of DC. This fleet must cut off the rebel’s fleeing route. Stop them here, so the rebels will be forced to seek another way and retreat to Porta.”

Wilder questioned, “Why do you want me to take such a big detour. Does it make a difference where they flee?”

“Not this time. If they ran to our border near the P/A Line, these scums probably are gonna sabotage or harass the farmers there, and their crops. Out there is the empire’s richest soil, which is also our foundation to thrive in the future. When you fight, I want you to try your best to calm the people as well as do less harm.”

“Understood, sir.”

“Likewise, I was talking to all of you. I have no doubt of winning. Our enemy is an army held up by money and power, with minimal loyalty.” Cohen told, “We’ll eventually win, but it’s our home, our empire. I don’t know what’s going to happen after the war. Therefore, people, do your best, minimize collateral damage.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Carlos, inform Amart, start the tattle. Make sure to fabricate enough amount of fear we need.” Cohen then pondered and said, “Buy out the rebel’s commanding officers of all levels. Give them what they want as long as they promise to stop resisting. I don’t care if we can fulfill, I’ll deal with the war at hand first. Take enough gold with you and give them to the captives. Keep an eye on them just in case they do harm to the commoners.”

Marfa gaped, “Are you serious? You wanna pay the surrenderers?”

“Astonished? Think, why the end of every past war always saw countless mobsters, robberies, burglars.” Cohen smiled wryly, “An empire is an entity of homes. A rogue soldier might steal a cow, or kill 10 farmers, which is an irrevocable catastrophe for a family. All the damages caused by rogue soldiers will eventually accumulate and impair the empire. If we restrain them with a little money to help us go through the time of war, then deal with them once we have the time and power, we’ll bring the collective damage to a minimal.”

“How should we deal with them then?” Marfa added, “I’m asking for Jack.”

“Anyone who took part in the rebellion is bad.” Cohen chuckled, “When all are settled, do what’s necessary accordingly.”

Cohen acted normally during today’s meeting, but the meeting attendees all thought there might be something odd about him today. In the old days, when Cohen held a war council, ofttimes he would slap the table or smash a glass. Unlike today, Cohen Kheda was less of an impulse and more of a schemer.

Only Martin Luther and Carlos knew Cohen was on track to transform from an army general to a king. He has been suppressing his nature. It would be an extremely difficult and painful process.

The meeting continued and ended until all senior officers understood and were familiar with every step.

“Mark it with your heart. The harvest is about to begin. All legion will begin targeted training.” Cohen dropped the pen and stretched himself, “My staff officers, do your job and plan the rest. Don’t come to bother me.”

“Yes, sir.” Carlos nodded, “Sir, have a rest? There’s a quiet place around the training field. I’ll walk you there.”

“Sounds good.” Cohen hinted to Leila to follow, “General Luther, come along. There’s someone I want you to meet.”

“Boss, bring us together. Who is it?” Someone’s voice echoed, “… some pretty lady? Introduce us!”

“Imbeciles!” Cohen ranted, “What’s in your filthy heads! The least of you is a brigadier already! Get your asses off to work!”

All quickly quieted and skulked out.

This chapter was originally published on Wuxianation, any despicable reposts or copies without proper citings are strictly prohibited.

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