Chapter 112 – Commander Exam 3

“Do you understand now?” Thanatos said as he sat beside Luon who had watched him use his body to overwhelm the opponent’s forces.

“Understand what? That I am unable to make the right decision because I believed that there is a better option?” Luon questioned him as he didn’t like the notion of killing the innocent.

Thanatos gave a short sigh as he said, “You hoped that there was another option. Hopes and dreams are something you take time to develop, you hope there is an answer, and there might be one, but you have yet to find it. You need extra time to think, but on the battlefield, nobody is going to give you the time you need. If you want time to develop a better strategy, a better idea, then think faster, and think further ahead. While your opponents are taking each step one by one, you need to skip several steps ahead of them. Combat skills can be forged, but the mind needs to be developed with experience.”

“Does that make your decision right?” Luon asked out of curiosity.

“Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter as long as it works. Even if you have the perfect strategy, not everything will follow through. Many factors may cause you to fail, and emotions on the battlefield is a crucial one. To remove that weakness, you need to kill the source of it,” Thanatos said.

Suddenly Luon had a thought, he asked Thanatos, “Wait… are you telling me when General Situ argued with you back there you intentionally incited him to charge in like that?”

Thanatos with a solemn expression nodded and said, “Although he is a great general his emotions is holding him back and I can’t afford to have any wild factors. If he obeyed my orders than nothing would have happened, but if disobeyed them then we can expect some good results. It was an ideal location to deal with their archers, but it was also the most dangerous if he were to take that approach.”

Luon was surprised to see Thanatos considered General Situ’s feelings in account when determining the strategy.

Seeing the dumbstruck Luon, Thanatos continued, “I wanted him to slay as many as possible, while also stalling for time before the main army arrives. Because of his efforts, the other generals will reconsider their actions to secure their own safety, and we were able to secure more arrows for tomorrow’s battle. From this point on it should be straight-forward, all you need to do is use General Huang to slowly kill their troops off while General Zhao intercepts their munitions supply with his cavalry. If possible, you should loot it and if it isn’t possible then  burn it.”

The strategy developed more positively than it would have been if Luon were at the helm. With the sacrifice of a few people, many others would live and fight another day. A general, although powerful, is helpless under the swarm of many men. Thanatos was willing to sacrifice General Situ for the greater good.

“However, to think that my insight would be matched. That General Zhao is without a doubt fearsome. Although he could have saved General Situ much earlier, his perfectly timed attack was spot on, he made General Situ eliminate a lot of their forces before they retreated. From this point on the exam is going to be much easier for you,” said Thanatos.

Luon nodded, the enemies forces have been significantly reduced so unless Luon greatly screwed up there was no way of failing the course. He couldn’t help but say, “Thanks for everything, it was probably a difficult decision to make.”

Thanatos’s figure began to fade into the darkness and before he left he said, “No problem, the more I control your body, the closer you are with the darkness. But for this kind of occasion, it should be fine since I had to make a dark decision for you. My solution may have worked in this simulation but if this kind of situation were to happen again, one where you had to choose between your family and friends versus the lives of many others, I believe that you’ll be able to find an ideal solution rather then having me make the cruel one.”

Luon was left in the dark room by himself pondering on his words, he silently mutters, “A solution where everyone can be happy. Like such a thing exists…”

It was as Thanatos said, the remainder of the exam was easy. After the first day of the battle, their opponent’s had retreated further into their territory and stopped near the boundary line of the battlefield. If they were to take several steps further than Luon would automatically be declared the victor of the battle.

The condition was that at least 75% of the currently available units must be within the battlegrounds. Because of this ruling Luon was able to send out a cavalry unit to intercept their opponent’s supply lines and slowly the enemy morale collapsed.

Due to the lack of food, the constant ranged attacks, and the threat of an imposing army Luon offered the enemy the opportunity to surrender, and they replied back with a messenger.

“They want to have a duel between generals to decide the battle?” Luon who heard the content was stupefied.

He was already winning so why should he even agree with this kind of decision? However, as he was about to reject the offer General Zhao intercepted him by saying, “My lord, I would recommend accepting this condition.”

“And why should I agree to it, General Zhao?” Luon said as he didn’t want to take any chances.

“As you know maintaining an army is difficult. Our supply line is thin, and our men could work on the fields earlier if the battle were to end much faster. General Wang has been dealing with the logistics, so he understands how much resources we are using every day.  I implore you to agree and end the battle much sooner. Not for me, but for the people,” said General Zhao.

“If you’re that confident, then I’ll agree. However, you will have to lead the combatants to victory. Failure is not an option,” said Luon.

General Zhao nodded and left the room to prepare for the battle. The next day came, and all the soldiers from both teams stood farm from each other in the distance. Luon waved his hands, and General Zhao nodded as he walked towards the center. Seeing how Luon’s team had chosen a combatant D10 also picked one from within their ranks.

General Zhao gave a quick bow and said, “Let’s have a good fight.”

“Likewise, I wish for the same,” the enemy representative said. It was one of their generals named General Qin.

They both got into their battle stance and stared at each other. Mentally they calculated and predicted their opponent’s moves, and nothing happened for the next few minutes. That is until General Qin got agitated and made his move.

Hunger, stress, and other factors had pressured General Qin to move first. He knew that they had no time to waste as he has eaten anything thing substantial for the last few days.

The two began to exchange blows only for them to realize that there was a huge skill difference between the two. Factors such as hunger have plagued General Qin, and General Zhao was already stronger than most generals.

Luon and the others watched as General Zhao defeated their opponent’s warrior. The most surprising thing was that the first person to go up was the weakest member of their opponent’s team which Luon use his analyzation ability to figure out.

‘Were they just probing General Zhao’s strength,’ Luon couldn’t help but wonder.

Luon found that the situation was quite odd, they knew how General Zhao was strong to some extent, and yet they only sent over a weakling to fight him. Even if they were probing him, they can’t expect him to reveal all of his cards from battling against a weakling.  The answer to his question quickly came as his opponents began to pull out numerous of ranged arms and attacked General Zhao. In response, he stabbed his spear into the defeated opponent and used his body as a shield as he quickly retreated back into their team’s formation.

Looking at the porcupine body, Luon couldn’t but say, “Shameless, to think D10 would consider doing something like that.”

“It’s not surprising seeing how they acted so far. Their morale should be near its lowest at this point. What should we do now?” General Zhao asked.

“Seeing how everyone is already out here let’s get in formation and prepare to attack the enemy,” Luon said as he was dissatisfied by D10’s actions. For the last few days, D10 had committed numerous shameless acts to incite the morale of Luon’s army such as spiking bodies and night attacks despite having low numbers.

Luon didn’t know why they did it but he felt it was more than just that, it was as if the enemy was probing out Luon’s commander’s ability but at the same time he was searching for something. Luon asked Thanatos for advice only to hear dead silence as a response.

‘Well, it’s difficult to figure out what D10 is thinking of, anyway, the situation is practically in my favor,’ Luon thought.

A few more days passed and eventually, D10 was forced to surrender, but during this period Luon managed to pick up a hint of something. During one of the days, the enemies formation reminded him of Thanato’s past memories. Could D10 have copied one of the compositions used in his second simulation? Or was it just a coincidence since the examiner doesn’t have any records of it.

Luon didn’t know nor did he care, his examination was over, and there was only one left to go before he graduated from Nexus University.

The combat examination was also held in a virtual world, it was a similar format to how the finals examination was arranged for the commander exam. Luon waited inside the lobby for a moment before his opponent appeared on the screen. Luon was surprised to see who it was, once an enemy and another day a comrade. A fool and power-hungry man, Zythos.

“It was interesting to see how he turned out after the simulations. It looks like my actions did do something seeing his reaction to things,” D10 said as he submitted Luon’s examination marks to the system.

“You should be more careful next time. Although I did ask you to help accelerate his death during the second simulation so he could experience more of the other ones. I didn’t ask you to torture the poor boy killing his family and friends inside of the simulation just to incite his abilities,” another voice coldly replied, only this one was more feminine.

“Isabella, your job is to help maintain the records and help make everything fairer. If you took more drastic measures during the first simulation, then he may have not been like this during the second simulation. All I did was develop a warrior, a commander, someone who might change the current society out of the numerous incubated children we have,” D10 said.

“What you’re doing is experimenting with the livelihood of an ignorant children,” Isabella said.

“And so what? You know that the Vortex Container has a huge flaw from within it. If it wasn’t flawed, we could be making huge advancements in the war. The thing is it is only useful to those who have adapted to it. People like me aren’t able to use it for a prolonged amounts of time compared to these kids. I’m doing what the system needed me to do in order to eliminate the Inzektors,” D10 said.

“You mean to create the ultimate soldier doing the same simulations over and over again with different children? You know there will never be one template to recreate a way a person thinks, acts or feels. Operation Next is just a fictional document created by the joke of your wife! You need to give up on it,” Isabella said.

“It’s only fictional because it hasn’t been done yet! Although I’m not a researcher I truly believe that this can happen,” said D10.

“… fine. We’ll continue working on this, but be careful, getting you in as an examiner was already difficult without your connections and my authorization. And if the boy noticed it we could get in trouble, after all, there is no 10th examiner for any of the sectors,” Isabella said.

“Alright, whatever you say, just tell me if you find another kid like him to play with. I’ll talk to you later,” D10 said as he exited the call.

Isabella sighed as she muttered “Honestly, why would he want D10 when he could have a normal identification like AD7? He only wanted that name because its similar to his real name. But how is D10 that much similar to Dio? It shouldn’t even matter that much…”

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