Translated by Tianic, edited by Grammarly
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[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter Anemia had left, Fallen pinched his medal on his chest, looking as if he was wronged. He has been feeling guilty for ending a man’s life.
Ranger lied on the grass. The eyes of that enemy boy he killed struck him all of a sudden.
Scarlet glanced Ranger, “What’s wrong? I see you’ve got your first bounty and you’re still sunky.”
“I’m thinking that when I retire…” Ranger said softly, “am I really going to spend my enemy blood-stained money to travel the land? They’re just like us, young lads.”
“I ain’t think shits. Our CO has said, don’t think.” Baham licked his thick lips, “I need to survive. I’ve got the chief’s daughter to marry.”
“Haha, I see this one think!” Claypool said with a smile, “You’re to deserve the nickname ‘Rut’”!”
“If he’s Rut, then who am I!” The real Rut stood up, looking anxious.
“Big booty!” A Simon rookie echoed behind.
As the innocent and joyful Rut was flattered by all and was shaking his ‘big booty’, an endless fleet of riders appeared from down the road.
Claypool opened his mouth, “Women! Hey! Women… ouch!”
“Piss off!” Scarlet retraced his hand after slapping a man’s head, “Never met one? You have 3 days. Find one in town!”
“That’s different. Can’t date a whore” Claypool held his head tightly, “Besides, how pure and pretty are those women in uniforms. And they live in the same camp.”
“Finally, you’re talking like a man.” Ranger turned to Claypool, “You’re pretty good at breaking the moment.”
“What units are they?” Baham asked, “Why does it have women?”
“The mage physicians legion, I guess. I heard they have female soldiers in the snakeman army too.” Scarlet gazed carefully at the tensely moving black dots, “Baham, how about you forget your hometown fiancee for now and start an army love affair?”
“Nope, my girl will kick my ass.” Baham made a bitter smile, “I dare not.”
“Good, one pass, anyone else?” Claypool asked loudly, “Edmond, Cooks, Simon, you three are too pebble-like to be part of it, what say you?”
Claypool was immediately punished by saying what he had said: they kicked his ass like kicking pebbles on the beach.
“Snakeman, wolf rangers, storm riders.” As the group of men stood on the hill, Scarlet murmured, “The war is finally here.”
“It’s not quite here, there’re still 6 more months to go.” Ranger swallowed, “Nevertheless, let’s make a vow. We’re all going home alive after the War!”
“Going home alive!”
A dozen rookies roared and held tightly on each other’s shoulders.
A few guards from a distance glanced them, their eyes, cold.
“Assemble, Samgha!” Commander Anemia found the rookies, his deep and cold voice came closer, “Urgent assignment!”
Like taking a harsh whipping, the team of rookies rushed over each other from the side of the hill and stood in formation in front of Anemia. They all had no idea of what happened. Only Claypool complained about finishing the 3-day vacation ahead of time and haven’t had the chance to meet a few women in uniforms.
Commander Anemia was looking seriously. The Major who awarded medals for the rookies was with Anemia too.
“Stand in line. Number off! Wait for your orders!” Anemia told the rookies, “Scarlet and Ranger. From this moment forward, you two will be my deputy captains!”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
“Scarlet, Ranger, Fallen, Rut, Baham, Cooks, Edmond, Simon, Claypool…” Scarlet counted from the team head, “Sir, Samgha members, all 12, at your command!”
Anemia nodded to the Major then the latter paced forward.
“My apology for interrupting your vocation. You can call me Major Mosa. I’ve just returned from the corps.” The Major said with a smile, “The assignment is here. There’re 2 recon squadrons under the Flame Legion that haven’t returned from their assignments. It’s been 2 days. And all other recon teams are on their assignment except for you, Samgha. That’s why this assignment is yours.”
“Yes, sir!” The rookies replied without hesitation. If anyone showed the least hint of unwillingness or moodiness, he might be just taken and beheaded.
“Your CO has the map I gave him. These two squadrons’ mapping area had a significant overlap and it’s close to your last mission place. I want you to find them. Dead or alive.” Major Mosa said seriously, “As for your leftover vocation. I’ll arrange for alternative days.”
“Now.” Anemia, “Get kitted and move out!”
As the rookies rushed back to their tents, Anemia turned to Major Mosa.
“Don’t look at me like that. Only Samgha is mobile among all other recon squadrons.” Major Mosa said with a smile, “And this mission is not a difficult one.”
“The difficulty is not yours to say once they’re on the Line. It’s not our business that Flames lost a couple. They should send their own men!” Anemia said in a lowered voice, “I don’t wanna risk my men’s lives.”
“You’re an army man. You have to comply. And you know that.” Major Mosa looked the distant view, “They’re your friendly troopers. They might be on the ground and eagerly waiting for rescue…”
“You’re talking like a pile of shit. You should bring men to save me when I’m in danger! You owe me!” Anemia spat into the earth then strode to the Samgha tent without turning a hair. He roared while walking, “Ranger, tell the men to bring enough food!”
Thus Samgha set out in a fuss.
It took them half a day to reach the front outpost. Anemia has been studying the map on the way. In the end, he called over a few smart rookies. After the discussion, they’ve decided to walk the path the missing squadron had chosen.
“We’re riding there.” Anemia said, “If they’ve engaged enemies, they must have been terminated, and the enemies have left. If they’re in other sorts of danger and we find them sooner, we might be able to save a few.”
“Sir, so…” Ranger, “What happened to them?”
“Who knows.” Anemia looked at his subordinates, “Recons of both allies are everywhere on the Line. They meet, they engage, and they run. Except for the case which refugees might attack some of them, lucky ones, but it’s rare.”
Scarlet guessed, “I assume they’re probably dead. We’re going now?”
“Now. We still have hope, though tiny.”
The Samgha Squadron thus penetrated deep into the Line with caution. By the third day afternoon, they’ve finally found the first missing recon squadron of the Flame Legion. However, this squadron was all but dead. Their bodies were placed neatly together and their supplies aside.
Sword cuts, arrow wounds, they were all killed with one strike.
After examining the dead soldiers’ bodies, Anemia’s face was ghastly pale. He had an arrowhead in his hand.
Ranger asked, “What’s wrong, sir?”
“You’re an archer. Look at this head.” Anemia handed the arrowhead to Ranger, “This metal penetrated a dead soldier.”
“It’s extremely sharp, tri-edged. Its length is twice as a regular arrowhead. I don’t think it’s from our army supply” Ranger flipped over the sharp metal in his hand while marveling at the lethality of the artifact, “No man will survive such an arrow. The wound will be astonishingly wide open. Rut, come!”
Rut came over, “What?”
Ranger showed the arrowhead to Rut, “Are the craftsmen in your clan able to make such an arrow?”
“We don’t have such materials. But if you’re asking me to resemble the shape, we can.” Rut fondled admirably with the metal, “A mountain dwarf craftsman is able to make approximately 3 per day.”
Ranger and Anemia gazed at each other and were both astonished.
“Placing dead soldiers like this is our AUF’s style. The other squadron must have done it.” Anemia looked around, “They might have further discoveries and chased on. Ranger and Fallen, go ahead. Search and advance.”
Fallen caught a sense of disappearing stink at a place less than 50 miles from the first squadron they found. They found the second unlucky recon squadron by tracing the smile.
This team had a dozen men. Their bodies were scattered by a pond.
Up until this moment, the 2 missing squadrons totalling 25 men were all spotted.
“Ranger, Fallen and Rut, search the perimeter.” Anemia stood by the pond, “The rest stay alert. The dead can wait.”
After repeated legworks, Fallen had made sure that zero enemy was around though Anemia sent 2 sentinels nevertheless before he got down to investigate the situation.
“All of you, use your brains. Picture the condition of them when they were ambushed. Think the enemy number and how it happened. It’ll benefit you in future combats.” Anemia stood by a body on the outer circle, “Starting with him. This soldier didn’t even have his weapon in hand. He was the first one down. Look at his position; he was shot squatted.”
The rookies all lowered their bodies to review the very corpse. Ranger fetched a tri-edged arrowhead from the carcass.
“This one died when he came to inspect the one that’s shot. He had his shield on the chest.” Scarlet flipped over the second body, “He’s drawn his blade but… an arrow had penetrated the shield before he could make a move…”
“If they’ve been lurking across the pond, the arrow must come from a crossbow.” Ranger added, “A regular war bow won’t have such a strong penetrability at such a distance.”
“They have 12 in total. So up until this moment, they would have had 10 left. Here I found a deep footprint. It belonged to him, I suppose.” Anemia hinted a dead body that was floating in the pond, “This soldier intended to leap over the water and disorganize the enemies, but he obviously failed.”
“Was it the correct way to handle the situation?” Rut asked.
“Negative. It’s rather a rash move.” Anemia judged, “He should lay low and work with his mates to in the attempt to converge since he’s not aware of the enemy number. Because of his blind act, his fellows were left alone and paid the price…”
So then the Samghas proceeded along the dead soldiers and found the situation even messier. Judging by the scene, their friendly squadron was faced with an incredibly hostile fight.
“Here, they’ve organized a short besieging, 3 vs. 1.” Anemia picked a saber with a broken tip, “Our side of the 3 soldiers made the correct teamwork, however, they’ve lost.”
“The enemies were impressive.” Scarlet looked closely at the dead’s weapons, “They were not hurt up until that moment.”
“Mark down our position and secure the file.” Anemia commanded, “We may encounter them in the future.”
As Ranger started writing with a pen and a piece of paper, Fallen called everybody over in a short distance up front. The werewolf’s voice revealed a rare sense of bizarreness, “I found an officer!”
“What is it, Fallen?” Scarlet strode over and discovered the beforementioned body that lied in the wild grass, “He’s just an unlucky petty officer.”
“Don’t you know him?” Fallen said in a low voice, “We fought him the other day…”
“Him?” Ranger leaned over then a tiny scar on the officer’s nose caught his attention, “It’s really him! The Flame Legion guy! That’s the wound Commander Anemia gave him in the pub.”
“He must’ve chased all the way from the pond and been besieged by 2 hostilities.” Anemia walked over. He didn’t show any emotion for the dead officer. Instead, he examined the nearby traces and started lecturing the rookies, “Take a look, you. How many bled parts does he has?”
“Only one!” Rut groped over the body for several times, “It’s the one that pierced his chest, saber cut.”
“The cut was not the reason he was killed. The fatal wound is here.” Anemia hinted the dead officer’s neck, “See the mud trace on his throat? I supposed someone crashed his neck by a kick then he was stabbed. That’s why the cut was so clean.”
Having said that, Anemia lifted the officer’s body to his feet in order to let everyone see the neck that was no longer able to withhold his head.
“Sir, he’s a strong man and much taller than me.” Scarlet trialed a few kicks aside, “How could he let another break his neck by a single kick?”
“I could only tell that you’ve never met one before, neither have I. Ranger, search the ground over there. You should find a deep footmark.” Anemia then told his subordinates, “You’ve all met this one. He’s indeed tall. In this case, the one who put him down by a single kick won’t be an average enemy soldier.”
At this moment, Ranger hailed from not far. He did find a deep footprint; however, it was odd that this print was as far as 5 footsteps from where the officer fell.
“Let’s have a demo so that you could learn how good the enemies are.” Anemia stood by the dead officer, “Ranger, you’re best at pacing. Think of a way to land your foot on my neck from that location.”
“It’s not possible!” Ranger shook his head.
“If you march, you might…” Baham said.
Ranger did as Baham had said then he leaped and threw his foot at Anemia. Nevertheless, Ranger’s kick could only reach as high as Anemia’s front chest with minimum force.
“It’s a tough one.” Claypool touched his jaw, “That leaves only one option, you jump…”
“How could I exert my leg force if I jump?” Ranger asked, “And I can’t jump that far.”
“He’s right. You have to jump.” Anemia ascertained Claypool’s analysis, “The enemy’s body, I suppose, is not as tall. That’s why he needed the brief burst of strength in order to break this officer’s neck. And this Flame Legion guy ain’t no rookie. He can’t be reached if the enemy was any slower.”
“How impressive!” Claypool was shocked, “Who were these enemies…”
“Doesn’t look like special forces. Might be elite reconnaissance.” Anemia sighed, “It kills me to wonder which PUF empire they’re from. I’ve never met an incident like this.”
“So… how many enemies were here?” Rut asked both anxiously and confusedly.
Anemia was so frowned that he pushed a few words out of his teeth, “3~4.”
“Three… four!?” Rut’s jaw almost dropped on his feet, “Three to four men killed 2 of our elite recons!?”
“Don’t fuss about. Clean the ground. We’re going back.” Anemia said, “Retrieve the dead’s belongings. Bury the bodies. Mark the earth.”
Three days later, Samgha Squadron rejoined its unit. The rookies were even more depressed as the personal belongings of the two reconnaissance squadrons of the Flame Legion were delivered.
In the commanding center on the left side of the AUF military headquarter, Major Mosa and another Major officer from the Flame Legion were anxiously waiting.
Anemia, as well as his weary subordinates, were standing in the blank space in front of the command post. Major Mosa strode out of the tent the moment he was noticed. Only the travel-worn Samgha members were there to see him. Although it was expected, Major Mosa was unable to conceal the disappointment in his eyes.
Anemia was looking bitter as he shook his head to Major Mosa.
The senior officers, one by one, exited their tents. Officers from the Flame Legion’s reconnaissance unit arrived moments later. The former empty space was crowded with people. Samgha has never been gazed by so many officers.
At last, a brigadier general of the Flame Legion arrived and stood himself on one side of the crowd. Thus the officers formed 2 lines beside Samgha. Major Mosa located himself by Anemia as well.
Ranger and the rest were exclaiming about the number of senior officers as Major Mosa stated, “Transition – ON!”
“Ranger, Scarlet,” Commander Anemia said, “bring the squadrons’ ranks and weapons.”
Anemia had the banners of the 2 dead squadrons folded in his both hands. Ranger placed the ranks and chest plates over the cloth. Major Mosa took over the weapons which Scarlet handed.
The two officers walked side by side toward the brigadier general of the Flame Legion. The brigadier’s eyes were fixed on the banners in Anemia’s hands the whole time. The eyes of vicissitude were looking sorrowful and bitter.
“Sir!” Anemia’s solid voice resounded, “Samgha Squadron, dispatched under order. We’ve successfully located 22 soldiers including a second lieutenant, first lieutenant of Crimson Squadron, Vulture Squadron of the Flame Legion; all died on the line of duty with honor!”
Two officers stepped on from the back of the Flame Legion brigadier, they took over the things in Anemia and Major Mosa’s hands.
“Well done.” The brigadier nodded to Anemia, “You and your men are dismissed. You’re to come and debrief your mission later.”
“Hang these two banners in front of the camp gate for three days.” The brigadier told his deputy, “Then deliver them to the HQ and forward to the Dark Temple.”
Then the Flame officers fell apart. The entire process was calm, quiet and solemn.
Anemia was about to leave with the rest of the Samgha members before Major Mosa called him into the commanding pavilion. The rookies waited outside for another hour before Commander Anemia exited.
“Go now. Continue your vocation. You have 6 days.” Commander Anemia came closer to the rookies expressionlessly. A pack of medals was in his hands, “These are all tier 2.”
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