Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight, Chapter 23: Rookie Mission
Qianye felt his stomach was violently turning, and the other two youths clearly weren’t much better off either. Just like that, the three finally couldn’t handle it anymore, and half an hour after takeoff they vomited all over the place.
Around evening, the airship passed by the Great Yellowstone Gorge and landed at near the Red Scorpion headquarters that was located near the northern side of the Qin Continent. However, the three little rookies weren’t fortunate enough to immediately see the mysterious Red Scorpion headquarters.
They received their first rookie mission before even exiting the ship: Cleaning. They were to clean the entirety of the transportation cabin, as well as the inside, outside, above, and below the airship. The goal was to make everything spotless.
Only after beginning to work did Qianye find out that cleaning was by no means any easier than melee combat.
Forget about the vomit in the cabin, the hardest things to handle were the many-years old grease staining the motor cabin and the airship’s inner and outer walls. Even though the three rookies were given detergent exclusively meant for cleaning old grease, a large bucket of water was needed for every little spot.
Just like that, the three carried water back and forth and cleaned. After a night, only the smaller half of the tiny, twenty meter long airship had been cleaned.
The various zones of the airship were strictly divided into three days of workload. Until the mission was completed, there would be no food nor sleep.
As a result, upon arriving at Red Scorpion, the three little rookies spent the first three days hungry, exhausted and sleepy. After struggling to clean the airship, they couldn’t even smell the heavy scent of grease on their bodies. All three fell asleep the moment that they returned to their dorm room, not caring about taking a bath or eating.
In these three days, Qianye displayed unwavering patience and meticulousness, refusing to overlook any little corner. Time and time again, he would wipe clean even a tiny speck of grease, and his cleaning and maintenance of the airship’s motor and transmission was also flawless.
This was because of the firearm maintenance he had learned in the past. Using the approach of meticulous weapon care to maintain that enormous fellow, even the bald captain that was known for being picky was praising his results non-stop.
Meanwhile, the performance of the other two rookies was acceptable for half of the first day, but the negligence was obvious after that. When they saw that Qianye was so unswervingly serious, they left the dirtiest places that were the most difficult to clean for Qianye, intentional or otherwise. Even though it looked as though the three did about the same amount of cleaning, Qianye had actually done more than those two added together.
Qianye did not mind these small losses. In the Yellows Springs Training Camp, he had learned to carry out the instructor’s orders to the letter. “To the letter” didn’t just refer to the literal meaning, it even included the intent behind the instructor’s orders.
In the dictionary of the Yellow Springs Training Camp, there were no such expressions like “taking the easy way out.”
When the other two rookies saw that Qianye was like that, they were happy to take advantage of the situation and pushed even more work onto Qianye. They were both prodigies in their respective families, blessed by the heavens. Furthermore, they had passed the one in ten thousand examination and joined Red Scorpion. Their prospects could be considered boundless. Young people like them could bear the pain of wounds and bloodshed, but when had they done such dirty and tiring work?
When the three rookies were sleeping soundly, five people were holding a meeting in a small conference room at Red Scorpion headquarters. Surprisingly, the bald captain was one of them.
The bald captain swiftly wrote scores on three forms and passed them to the others.
After the soldiers looked at them and passed them around, the form arrived in Wei Lishi’s hands. He glanced at it and said to the bald captain, “Although I figured this would be the case, isn’t the disparity in scores a little too great?”
“I scored them centimeter by centimeter, you know! ‘Scorpion Tail’ is like my own child! Not even a speck of change would escape my eyes. Those two young’uns are a hundred years too early to play these little tricks on me! The other young’un, Qianye, isn’t bad. He’s very smart and a steadfast worker. I like him!”
Seeing that the bald captain was so insistent, Wei Lishi nodded and signed his name on the form. He then told the other three soldiers, “Well, that’s the result of the test. You lot decide amongst yourselves!”
“Qianye,” One of them spoke first.
Another one immediately protested, “No! You guys chose first last year. It’s our turn this year!”
The third one spoke in a casual tone. “That’s not how it goes, is it? Your squadron already used up this year’s priority privilege last year. Could it be that you plan to use up next year’s too? “
Only after arguing for a long time did they eventually finish divvying up the three rookies. In the end, the soldier with the big mustache had to promise a great deal of personal compensation before he could successfully acquire Qianye
The total amount of points in the initial test was one hundred. Qianye alone received sixty five points, while the other two only got thirty five points altogether.
There were many uses for points in Red Scorpion. These points were used for promotions in military rank, allocating resources, or even choosing missions. The initial test gave a large amount of points in total. After this, it would be very rare to encounter these kinds of high-point missions as a rookie.
Of course, Qianye and the others didn’t know this yet. Those two little fellows thought that they were smart and didn’t leave any traces, but it was as the bald captain said—these petty tricks didn’t fool anyone. In front of those big-shots, acting clever was the same as destroying one’s future prospects.
On the second day, Qianye was woken up first thing in the morning by the sound of someone roughly pounding on the door.
“Wake up already, rookie! How long you plan to keep on sleeping?!”
Qianye jumped off the bed in a flash and rushed to open the door. An army officer with a big mustache on his face was standing at the door. He had a muscular physique, and was extremely tall—at least two meters and thirty or so centimeters in height! Qianye’s slender frame seemed as petite as a doll when standing before him.
The mustached man inhaled deeply through his nose as he said with a frown, “Go wash up, get rid of that stench of engine oil on you! You have—”
He looked at the watch, and said, “You have a whole five minutes! Wash yourself clean from head to toe! I’ll be waiting here!”
All of the officer’s words were roared.
“Who are you?” Qianye carefully asked.
“I am surnamed Nan. Everyone calls me Nan Batian!”
Qianye felt déjà vu upon hearing another mighty, domineering name, but it was instantly drowned out by the deafening roars that followed.
“You don’t need to know my original name! From now on, you will be a member of my Tiger Scorpion Battalion. Go shower, rookie! Now!”
“Yes, sir!” Qianye immediately gave a military salute, then he rushed into the bathroom as though he were flying.
Qianye only used three minutes to wash himself clean, then rushed out and changed into a new uniform.
This uniform took pure-black, the base color of the great Qin Empire’s military, for its own use. However, the collars and lapels were decorated with red strings, and there was a scorpion design on the upper part of the sleeves
The body of the scorpion was entirely black and red, while the stinger was an alarming scarlet. It was the red scorpion that could be seen in every continent, a tiny thing only as big as a person’s palm, yet it was one of the most venomous creatures on land. An ordinary adult stung by the red scorpion would die by poison in only a dozen seconds.
Seeing that Qianye came out, Nan Batian turned and left without pause. The length of his steps were more than one and a half that of normal people, and Qianye had to jog for two steps to catch up.
“There are many things to do today! Come with me to get your equipment first, then I’ll take you to a room of your own. Tiger Scorpion Battalion has its own barracks, so there’s no need for you to live in this damned place anymore. After that I’ll take you to several important places in the camp. That way, you’ll know where you can go to repair your gun, get good stuff cheap, or even take some private missions if they don’t interfere with combat missions. However, private missions will have to wait until you’re no longer a rookie. Don’t even think about it now!”
Qianye was already used to the way Nan Batian talked by now, and one by one he memorized the essential pieces of information by heart.
Soon enough, Nan Batian took Qianye out of the temporary barracks, and they walked into the encampment of Red Scorpion’s official headquarters.
Stepping through an enormous, thirty meter tall, one and a half meter thick metal gate, Qianye felt as though his heart was being heavily smashed by a hammer. He was so amazed by the scenery before him that he couldn’t speak. Even though he had already seen a bird’s-eye view of the military-industrial city of Xiangyang, he was still astonished by this enormous war machine.
One kilometer away, the building that served as Red Scorpion’s headquarters was six hundred meters tall and stood straight up like the mast of a ship. The red paint on the outer walls was already full of rust, revealing the metallic base color underneath. However, this did not affect the magnificent, intimidating air of this enormous building in the slightest, and instead gave it a solemn, historical feel.
Several bat-wing styled airships were ascending from the headquarters, swiftly flying off in different directions.
Meanwhile, a monstrous airship with an aerostatic balloon over several hundred meters long on top of it slowly emerged on the horizon!
Many airships were ascending from and descending to a colossal airship base on its right hand side. There were smaller flying boats, mid to large sized airships, and even two warships that were over a hundred meters long. Parked on the other side of the base were seven old-fashioned airships that could only fly using aerostatic balloons.
Parked in rows beside the base were various kinds of caterpillar tanks. They could be counted into the hundreds! The number of heavy-duty trucks there were similarly abundant.
Qianye had seen the pictures and models of these basic military armaments in class, but only after seeing the real thing did he experience the impact of that unparalleled view.
The left side was functional buildings of various sizes, Qianye even saw a factory that could hold an giant-sized airship among them.
Hundred meter tall factories, the roofs of which were arched, were currently opened to the side, revealing the mast of a mid-sized airship and the top half of the ship’s body. Workers were crawling on top of it like ants. Steel shavings flowed down from the enormous metal surface, gleaming with red flames. Intense work was clearly being done.
A distance further down, stretches of energy facilities were connected to each other.
They were a group of buildings in the shape of the Perpetual Dynamo Tower. More than ten gigantic chimneys that were attached to each other in a row resembled the Tree of Kunlun that connected heaven and earth. The black smoke that was being continuously produced gathered into a massive cloud of smoke that covered half the sky.
Even looking from afar, one could imagine how tempestuous the energy coming along from the pipelines was to be able to keep the enormous Red Scorpion headquarters going.
Taking Qianye along, Nan Batian walked toward the parking lot and jumped on a small jeep that had its door open, and driving toward an arms depot to the left. Without a vehicle, doing things in such a massive base definitely wouldn’t be very easy.
In the lobby of the arms depot, Nan Batian roared, “This is a rookie of our Tiger Scorpion Battalion! Give me a set of standard equipment and sniper gear!”
After a short moment, a huge backpack and a black briefcase were thrown directly out of a window. No one spoke or showed their faces in the process.
Nan Batian caught the two things, each with one hand, and roared, “Thanks!”
He then turned to Qianye and said, “Let’s go. Onward to Tiger Scorpion’s barracks!”
Tiger Scorpion’s barracks was at the north-eastern side of headquarters, and beside it was Blood Scorpion’s barracks.
Just by looking at the appearance of either barracks, Qianye already felt that Tiger Scorpion’s situation didn’t seem very good. Aside from being half the size of Red Scorpion’s barracks, all of the vehicles parked outside of Tiger Scorpion’s barracks were kind of old and completely incomparable to the brand new vehicles of Blood Scorpion. In addition, Tiger Scorpion’s barracks seemed desolate and not as busy as Blood Scorpion’s.
Nan Batian scratched his head and said in a somewhat awkward manner, “Um, let me put it this way. I do admit that I’m not as good at leading as those Blood Scorpion guys. They often move as a whole battalion to make big business deals. As time went on, Tiger Scorpion’s funding became somewhat… tight. Mn, yeah, that’s how it is.”