Translator: Chaos_ Editor: Geoffrey_
Since their next course of action had already been decided, these Federation soldiers, who were well-trained in their discipline, immediately stopped all arguments. The two major staff officers, two captain officers, and Colonel Peter were naturally the highest ranking officers amongst the soldiers and had become the temporary commanding officers of this group. The group of over 200 Federation soldiers was divided into five groups. The third, fourth and fifth groups consisted of ground-based armored division soldiers who had plenty of experience in controlling Battle Mechas. The second group was completely filled with aviation squadron soldiers. This group of soldiers had interacted with Battle Mechas, though their degree of control allowed them to only start the mecha. However, because of the special requirements for a pilot, they would definitely have received survival training for when they are behind the enemy lines, thus they would not have too much trouble walking on foot and using weapons — barely passing as an infantry soldier. As for the first group, it was the preparatory group which the colonel himself formed. In this group, they were all excellent soldiers with physiques and combat prowess that were relatively better than the rest.
Tian Xing Jian continued leading the special scouts second platoon, first section which consisted of ten warrior-class pioneers, an [Antenna], and a [Fury Fire]. He was also appointed as the supreme commander of this ad-hoc assault team. The weapons and rations were distributed equally amongst everyone. This was an extremely difficult trek, so everyone had to arrange their own luggage carefully. Under the management of Peter, everyone gathered within the carriages before starting their pre-operation review.
In order to ensure the troops understood the target objective, would act decisively, would follow the orders from the commanders, and would act with high morale, a pre-operation review of the plan was needed.
Standing in the middle of the carriage, Tian Xing Jian started the very first briefing he has ever had since the start of his participation in the war. To him, this was a true test. Across from him was a team that had been formed in a hurry. They were the over 200 prisoners-of-war that had just been rescued and the group group of people that had lost their spirit — the walking dead. He had to revert this group of chaotic Federation citizens back from their previous mindset of being captives to the mindset of being a qualified soldier.
“Beloved Federation battle comrades, I think we are fully prepared to escape this time round.”
This opening brought forth the group’s laughter. Usually, the pre-mobilization speech done by the commanders of the Federation would be something along the lines of “We are finished with our winning preparations”.
Fatty’s seemingly lack of solemness altered this starting sentence.
“That’s right. I don’t feel shame at all for escaping! Today, I want to tell all you guys something and not the nonsense like we’re doing this for the sake of the entire human race or the Federation. As a coward, I want to truly tell you what I feel within the depths of my heart!”
“Did you know that ever since the enemies started invading, I’ve already escaped from 21 battles? This time, it’ll be my 22nd escape with everyone. This is a journey filled with thrills, dangers, and blood. We’ll all become primates as we use our broken rifles to fight in the mountainous region against the enemy Battle Mechas and fighter aircraft. Can’t you feel how terrifying this is? The people who are weak at heart can leave first, but before this movie concludes, you have to understand that out there in the world, there are abysses so deep that we cannot walk past. Since we can’t tear apart the tickets to the movie and have to watch it, you can always decide to end yourself first by shooting yourself with your own rifle. Before you even feel pain, you’ll have died. The good thing about doing this is that you will never have to experience life as a prisoner-of-war ever again.”
A moment of silence.
“If there isn’t anyone leaving, then we’ll all be participating in this game together. We are standing at the cliff right now with no one to depend on. The only ones you can look for help will be the people around you, and you yourself. This is a game called the race for life or death. In this game, those who are weak willed… will eventually be eliminated. Those who do not follow orders… will be eliminated. Those who had given up on themselves… will be eliminated. And if even your luck is bad… you’ll be eliminated. Honestly, I don’t know how many among us will win this game, but what I am certain of is that it is definitely not all of us. Opportunity is fair. Everyone has a chance at survival, but it is distributed equally amongst us. Thus, in order to escape, we have to be together and treat the people beside us as parts of our body. Who knows? Maybe after saving a group of people from the cliff and pulling them up from their fall would they block the bullet aiming for your head later in the journey.”
Not a single sound could be heard in the carriage. Only Tian Xing Jian’s voice continued to echo within.
“As I’ve said earlier on, I’m just a coward. This is a fact. I rarely have the chance to spill out my inner heart in front of so many people. I hate wars — because I truly love my life. Of course, all of you can certainly understand the fear of death. Ever since I was six, I’ve lost my parents. They died in a flying ship accident. I have been living by myself ever since then. Fortunately, the inheritance from my parents prevented me from performing out in the streets for money. I’ve been afraid of death ever since I’ve lost my parents. Every single night, I would turn on all the lights at home. Only with the lights on could it chase away my fears. This sort of terror has accompanied me for 16 years all the way until now. It isn’t that I’m brave, but rather I’m just like all of you — we can’t escape from this. I am not willing to become a deserter, only to be executed shamefully. That’s why I’m here today. I’m not willing to abandon my friends, so I stayed. I’m not willing to give my life to my opponents, so I’m here right now speaking with all of you. We only have one chance at living, and this one chance isn’t something anyone can take from us. Your life belongs to you eternally, but some things might be even more precious than life. Things like family, love, and friendship. I often think to myself... what if my parents can reincarnate? For things like that, I’m definitely willing to exchange my life for it.”
“I have never dared to think of scenes like trampling on life until the moment when I first entered the concentration camp. That was when I was stunned and angered. This anger could not be explained with words. I almost spat out my bitter courage, and as I spat, I would think about how I would never ever pile up corpses. Whoever wants to kill me will have to pay the highest price in doing so. I could truly empathize with how you all felt in that kind of environment, with how tormented and humiliated you were. In all of your hearts, there would be a scar left behind. Peace had long been left behind by this nation of over 300 years. Right now, we have nowhere to go.”
“Since we have nowhere to go, then we will not escape. Since the enemies want war, then we will give them war and kill them all. If we die, then we will die in battle and not be slaughtered like sitting ducks.”
“Thus, this time as I begin my 22nd escape, it shall no longer be called as an escape. It shall have a better name: fighting for survival!”
Several people started laughing.
“If I could not avoid death in the end, then please write this on my tombstone: ‘A coward who braves desperate times for survival. He has been battling his entire life in order to live. This man is the paragon of cowardice.’”
Everyone laughed. Once they reached the stage of disregard for living or dying, everyone started laughing as if a load had been lifted off their back; they were extremely carefree. This inscription carved on the tombstone was not just for Tian Xing Jian alone but for the rest of them as well.
Tian Xing Jian was laughing too. He finally said, “Let’s go, beloved Federation heroes. There’s no turning back and no decisions to make. Grab hold of the rifle in your hand and kill any enemies in front of you. The game has begun.”
The centipede started moving once again. This object that was entirely covered in soil, no longer showing a semblance to its original shape. It ascended gradually. After breaking through the hard fundamental layer on the surface, it finally reached the roads. This road would be destroyed after the group left so as to obstruct the soldiers that would be pursuing them from the west.
The group’s movement was extremely orderly and fast. Soon, this temporarily formed mixed assault team of soldiers from different units and vocations finished their preparation to begin the operation. Everyone was quietly waiting for the green light.
[Antenna] began operating. After three minutes, it established a connection with the Federation forward command center before completing the transfer of the document. Tian Xing Jian gave the order, and immediately, an enormous explosion took place on the road behind the group. This was the start of their journey with no turning back.
This was a group that had woken up from a nightmare. Everyone felt truly relaxed as they said, “Let’s go, comrades. We have come from hell and we’ll all walk to heaven together.”
Very soon, they left the roads and entered a dense forest within the mountainous region.
The beginning of their operation was not smooth at all.
Miracolo Planet’s primitive forests were damp and muffled, and they were truly dense — no wind could enter. The ground was filled with all sorts of fallen leaves from the plants. There was a type of weed with leaves in the shape of a sawtooth; these weeds were giving the group a lot of troubles. As long as they were not careful, their legs would be cut by the weeds.
Tian Xing Jian ordered for [Fury Fire] to walk at the forefront. This biggest Battle Mecha in the group had four powerful mechanical legs and two assisting mechanical legs as well as four mechanical arms that gave it a figure akin to a huge crab.
[Fury Fire] acknowledged the order of opening up the path. The places it traveled through would see those smaller trees and plants being trampled upon, thus opening a temporary path for the soldiers moving on foot. Its two mechanical arms continuously got rid of all weeds along the way, increasing the speed of the group considerably.
Thoriko brought along a section worth of warrior-class pioneers and walked along the sides of the group. They were responsible for protecting the entire group as well as the [Antenna] which was situated in the center of the formation.
[Antenna]’s All-Round Scan was trying its utmost in searching the skies. The Imperial Army would certainly not ignore any unauthorized transmittance of signals to occur within their zones. Very soon, the sky would be filled with countless surveillance planes and fighter aircraft. [Antenna] would have to warn the others before the enemies discovered them so that they could make use of the time to hide themselves. Otherwise, several bombs would be enough to eradicate half the people here.
The Federation’s forward command team had already replied. They agreed to dispatch a group of soldiers to penetrate according to their requirements and requested for this group of escaping soldiers to try their best to get as close as possible to the air zones controlled by the Federation so that they would be able to obtain the support of the air force. As the report given by Rashid previously included the situation regarding the concentration camp and the records stored within his Battle Record Device, it had attracted the attention of the higher-ups, including the Supreme Headquarters and President’s Office. They had requested the Miracolo Resistance Army’s forward command to try and think of a way to escort this group of people out. The moment the matter regarding the concentration camp was revealed, the Federation would certainly obtain a beautiful victory in their international debates, thus soliciting even more empathy and help from the others and possibly attracting some huge nations to take action and interfere with the Gyaca Woods Empire’s military affairs.
As for the deduction done by Tian Xing Jian, the forward command planning department had merely signed on the fact that they had received it. They had not really done any real evaluations on it, and thus they did not have any answer as to what they would do with it. This news was enough to make all the escapees feel disappointed. Regardless of whether their deduction was accurate or not, they had actually taken a risk with their lives so as to transmit the message across. Everyone truly wished it would provide some help to the Federation.
Half an hour passed and they had traveled only 6-7 kilometers. Within this mountainous region, this was already the greatest speed the group could achieve. [Antenna] finally rose its mechanical arms, signifying that the enemies had appeared.
The moment Tian Xing Jian gave his orders, the group that was lined up in the shape of a long snake scattered deep into the dense forest. As for the Battle Mechas, they would use [Antenna] as the center before finding big trees, thick leaves, and branches to hide under while borrowing the reflective alloy system on the [Antenna] to camouflage themselves.
A few minutes later, the rumbling sounds of fighter aircraft came from the sky.
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