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As the winners were teleported back into the ship, the majority of the crowd stared at the group that was donned in the classic military uniform minus the addition of a lower mask. Every single military official has this mask as it allowed the user to breathe oxygen by either using the tanks it has in its storage or by converting the atmospheric gases using magic. However, not many were willing to wear it unless it was necessary. The group only wore it because they felt obliged to hide their faces due to their background as assassins.
Not many knew this though, so when crowd sent their gaze at the group they merely thought that they were imprudent, rebellious and strange. Luon was amongst the crowd who stared at them.
He recognized that these people were the ones that had eliminated him and besides the ones he had seen before or reunited with after being eliminated moments after, he managed to pinpoint the one who sniped him.
A clapping resonated from the surroundings, diverting all of the attention to the source. Felia said to the crowd, “Get in line with your squads, we’ll be announcing the results of the test and details in regards to your future placements.”
Luon and Gizmo reunited with the rest of the team. After they were eliminated their squad stayed on the defensive for the remainder of the match. After the 48-hour mark, only 3 of the 10 squads had survived the ordeal. This didn’t mean that the other 7 teams failed the test. In fact, out of the seven who were defeated, 5 of them passed the test while the remaining two has to go through basic training once more.
The two squads who heard about their results couldn’t help but feel grim. Arisa and Felia both pointed out the flaws in their teamwork, assault, and defensive logic while Keyral projected the scenes for everyone to see and learn from. They were simple mistakes, but these mistakes can cause the death of a fellow comrade.
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While punishing the foolishness caused by a few squads, Arisa and Felia also projected several scenes which were quite well done as an example of what one should do. It was mainly short clips from the squads that Instructor Lin and Instructor Kora had taught. Hearing Felia’s praise, Instructor Lin couldn’t help but feel ecstatic as she began to slightly smile until she realized it and hid her feelings with a deadpan, “of course it’s like that” face. Luon managed to take a glimpse of this looked back and forth between Felia and Instructor Lin and thought, ‘Could it be? No way.’
As Luon was pondering at the mysteriousness of their relationship, there was someone else who also noticed this, but they also saw Luon’s reaction before giving out a short and silent sigh. Arisa simply thought, ‘To recognize this and still be dense. I can’t tell if this guy is for real.’
She and Belle both knew that Instructor Lin and Felia had a good relationship starting from way back to the time they were in school. Only they stayed at friends and never changed since then, Felia knew how Lin felt about her but felt more obliged to accomplish her duties rather than drown herself in love.
After the speech was over, the remaining 8 teams were sent to a spaceship that was designed for their fleet after dropping off the teams that were going to redo their training. The fleet carrier was named after their fleet name, and once on board, everyone was officially recruited in the military. Their schedules varied from patrol duty, cleaning duty, physical training, supplemental learning, and free time. This schedule was for recruits like Luon and the others.
“Hmm, looking good today if I do say so myself.”
During his free time, Luon worked on the robots, starship and weapon maintenance. Before Luon was four robots, when Belle heard that Luon was able to do maintenance on them she got their squad two more robot operators and two standardized starships in addition to what he already had.
The four robots were all ready to go at any time, besides taking orders the majority of the time that they spent was on self-maintenance. Luon had taught them the concept of self-care.
“Hey, how’s it going? Are they all ready to go?” Belle came into the workshop dragging along Kiri and the sniper girl, Roda. Luon barely made any contact with her and only heard her name during the promotional speech that Arisa did. She was the 1st squad leader while Belle was the 2nd, the placements were determined by how many points they had obtained during the event.
Roda and Belle had a similar schedule to a new recruit except for the fact that they don’t have patrol duty. They were obliged to attend a weekly meeting with the other squad leaders and learn about the current circumstances from their Fleet Commander Arisa.
Felia had already left to do a task at nearby space station after teaching Arisa the basics of how to arrange information meetings and keep up to date with the situation against the Inzektors. She said that when she returns the NX Fleet will be off on their first mission.
“Yes all four of them are ready to go. I’ve tested the performance of the four with the help of the other members,” Luon replied.
Belle nodded as she said, “Great, with the addition of these four robots we have a total of 11 members. We may be a small squad now, but after this mission, depending on the results, we may be getting more staff.”
“Are they robots?” Luon asked as he shivered in fear. Working on four robots and their individual spaceships were already difficult enough, not to mention that he also works on his own spaceship with Gizmo and the others. While there are some engineers in their Fleet, the amount of staff compared to the number of fighters were too little, it was to the point where they sometimes skip quality control checks and assume that things just work without any sign of doubt.
“No, they will be people. Don’t worry about the lack of engineer problem. Depending on our performance the government may sponsor us more for more staff in both departments. According to Arisa we’re only officially allowed to have 25 spaceship units in our squadron. I’m thinking if we ever get that far we’ll divide our groups into smaller squadrons, with mine flagged as the main squad. If we do get approved for 25 units, I was thinking that besides me, I’ll have you, Angela, Kiri, and Gizmo lead them. What do you think?”
“Gizmo? Are you sure about this? He’s never taken any commander related course before,” Luon asked.
Belle nodded as she said, “Between someone I can’t trust that can do their job, and someone I can trust that can learn how to do it. I would rather choose the latter, and besides, I’ll just have him lead a convoy unit so we can have a ground unit. I heard that he only drops by and helps you every once in a while and the majority of the time he’s wasting it inside of the Vortex Container. What does he do inside of it anyway?”
“Ahh… just relieving some stress, you know how he doesn’t like the meals lately so maybe he’s pretending to eat delicious food in the simulation,” Luon said as he attempted to avoid the question. He didn’t feel like he should tell Belle that Gizmo often satisfied his libido by going in the Vortex Container, and the frequency increased when he became 21.
“Oh, is that right?” Belle found the way Luon worded it to be strange but didn’t pry any further.
“Isn’t it about time now?”
At this moment, Roda who was quiet the entire time mentioned Belle that they weren’t just here for no good reason. Belle suddenly realized that she was slowly diverting from the topic as she said, “Oh right. I was just here to check if you got the robots working in time. Felia just came back, and we just got notified on our first deployment. In the next hour, I’ll be having squad briefing on our first mission, and we’ll be doing the briefing together with squad 1 since the meeting rooms are practically booked and we are pressed on time.”
“When are we departing?” Luon couldn’t but ask as he realized at how fast things were going.
With a grim smile, Belle said, “18 hours from now.”
18 hours may seem like a long time, but in reality, it was brief. The meeting itself took nearly two hours as it covered all the details that they needed to know. From how to communicate with other squadrons, the frequencies that the other ships were using to communicate, the formation and placement of the squad, and the number of enemies they will be up against.
The first mission they’ve received was an assault, they were to remove the Inzektors in the space around a planet they were going to colonize and cleanse it of Inzektors. In this solar system, there were a total of 7 planets, half of which has been claimed by the Alliance. The fifth planet was said to be the most plentiful as there were more enemies than what they expected it to inhabit.
But the NX Fleet wasn’t alone, along with them the Arnox Fleet, and three others. The scale of the battle zone was predicted to be medium-sized and among the five fleets, two of which were brand new. The higher ups wanted to a victory and left the choice to retreat up to the leading Fleet Commander who was an old veteran in the field and has served in the military for about 30 years.
After the meeting, Luon and the others jumped into their spaceships and checked to make sure everything was all right. Each spaceship was armed with at least two military-grade laser turret.
The customization Luon did was reducing the energy cost used per attack on one of the turrets while boosting the other. They didn’t need to use the standard amount of energy for an attack if they were up against a weak Inzektor, but they need enough power for a stronger Inzektor. He made improvements on the energy matrix increasing the efficiency.
Most engineers can do the same, but the amount of technical maintenance that was required meant more work than what one would want to do. It was easier to send it to the technical department where they work off of the same template after all, and it took less time as well since they can hand the work over to greenhorns. As for why they haven’t updated the energy matrix is because not all of their engineers were smart enough to work off of it. Standardized testing creates standardized engineers, only if one seeks self-development can things change, but not everyone is like that.
“Are you guys all ready to go?” Luon asked while sitting on his cockpit. On the side, several holographic projections appeared with a live feed of every single one of his teammates. It was unknown who started it, but they began to talk about some casual topics that were indirectly related to the battle. Their nerves allowed their mind to wander as they couldn’t help but feel anxious about the upcoming battle.
This was real life, it wasn’t the fake thing that they had experienced several times before. If they died now, they are dead for good. If this were the old Luon, he would be wishing for his friend to destroy any trace of his secret erotic fetishism stored in the database. However, after his experiences in the Vortex Container, and in this lifetime Luon thought that if there was an afterlife he wished that he’ll be able to meet with friends once again, to befriend them, and have fun with them. But the most important wish of them all was that everyone would come back unharmed.
Arisa sat on an imposing chair on the bridge, she stared at the video feed before her as she said to the other bridge members, “Let’s go, onward to the battlefield.”
The newly made NX Fleet made its move, to a battle wherein no one knows the outcome.