Chapter 343: Told You We’re Not Popular
Hunters are a group who values strength a lot. While Vanguard didn’t have a rule where the B Squadrons must accept the people they were “given”, most of the commanders considered it to be a good thing. After all, 99% of the A Squad hunters were A-rank with superb combat experience. Why would anyone turn down such excellent talent?
There was a problem, however. With great strength comes great pride, and the hunters of the A Squads were about as proud as they could be. They believed themselves to be superior to the B-Squad counterparts. Therefore, it wouldn’t be an easy task to integrate them into the original crew. At the very least, the B Squadron commanders fully expected it to be a long term project.
That was why their eyeballs nearly fell out of their sockets when they heard Cillin’s declaration. Throw them out if they didn’t meet expectations? Was he touched in the head?
“Settle down!” Ji Feng tapped his table once and waited until everyone was silent again before continuing, “The topic has been elaborated, and we will not dwell on it further. Those who have questions can bring it up to the management after the meeting. Now then, let us move onto the next topic…”
The general meeting was a full-day meeting, so the sweep and impromptu introductions would be over by the time they were freed. Besides that, the A Squads also wanted to know how their crew would react without their commander. Finally, communication was forbidden during the meeting, so it wasn’t like they could warn their crew ahead of time. All in all, it was pointless to worry about it. The commanders knew it, but they still couldn’t help the gnawing sensation in their chest.
Meanwhile, the cleaners had hit the first ten B Squadrons. It was because the A Squad had, after a secret investigation, determined at least one traitor in every B Squadron except the Eleventh Squad. Even those who they weren’t sure would be subjected to a deeper investigation later.
While the sweep was going on, some basic information was sent to the B Squadron commanders. it included the list of people who were eliminated or taken away for further investigation, the reason behind their suspicion and more.
At first, the B Squadron commanders were pissed off as a matter of course. The hot-tempered ones were a hair’s trigger away from exploding and leaving the meeting outright. In the end though, no such thing happened despite the myriad emotions that fleeted across their faces. They were also visibly more subdued than they were before.
Speaking of which, Cillin was still the calmest out of everyone in the meeting hall. His lack of reaction certainly puzzled a lot of people.
At the same time, not far away from the Eleventh Squad’s base, a flying car with a space extension descended on the ground. Nearly fifty youngsters—the youngest among them were only fifteen or sixteen years old—filed out of the vehicle.
“Is it just me, or is anyone else having second thoughts about this?” A guy asked after staring at the empty, desolate-looking base for a moment.
A few people immediately echoed in agreement. “Me too pal, me too. Where are the people? Why aren’t they training? Forget fighter training, I don’t even hear shooting or running or anything? They can’t be the indoor training type, right? I hate indoor training. It just doesn’t feel right at all! Plus, the establishment of the Eleventh Squad is all sorts of weird from the start. The management can dissolve or reorganize it tomorrow, and we won’t be able to do a thing about it. And don’t even get me started on their crew size. What can they possibly do with so few people besides mining? More mining?”
Many of these people felt that their talents were squandered when they received word that they would be sent to the Eleventh Squad. At first, they thought that they would at least check out the place first and said as much to the person-in-charge. Now though, any semblance of interest or motivation had fled their bodies completely. Was there even a point in keeping a squad like this around? What were the higher-ups thinking?
Over seventy people had been told that they would be moved to the Eleventh Squad. Twenty or so had rejected the transfer immediately while the remaining fifty sat on the fence.
Someone said, “This is good chance, actually. If we enter the Eleventh Squad now and it develops into something, we’ll return to the A Squad as veterans and be respected for it. That’s good for the resume.”
It was an unwritten rule, but the rule exists. Songba Leruo and Barthes were two such examples, former B Squad commanders who climbed their way up the ladder from the bottom and gained a substantial amount of influence because of it. As the guy said, it was good for the resume.
Not everyone harbored the same hesitation and doubts, however. While the group was still discussing among themselves, an inconspicuous fellow started striding toward the Eleventh Squad’s base.
“Wait for me, Mao!” A young man with porcupine hair called out to the person before catching up to him. He was followed by a couple more people. They seemed to share a good relationship with one another.
“Mogas, Phoebe, you sure about this? It’ll be difficult to apply for a transfer if you change your mind later,” persuaded someone.
“A living is a living, man. And if the Eleventh Squad truly has no missions to take, I get to do whatever I want. I call that a win-win,” replied Mogas, the porcupine-haired guy while pulling at his perfectly straight hair.
“A hunter without a mission is a hunter without room for growth, dude. Mao, well, there’s no point talking about Mao, but I know you’re not the kind of guy who can stand boredom. You sure about this?”
Mogas sighed. “If push comes to shove, I’ll turn over a new leaf and become a boring drone, I guess.”
“... any other excuse would’ve been more believable than this one. Ah, whatever. It’s your choice. Don’t say we didn’t warn you if you regret it later.”
The guy returned to the flying car right after he gave up trying to change Mogas’ mind, causing a lot of people to change their minds and follow him back into the flying car as well. Twenty or so people remained undecided until...
“Yo, are you guys leaving or not? We’re leaving you behind if you’re not!”
“Why are you guys even hesitating? Just take a look at the Eleventh Squad’s crew count and recall how all hunters in general are doing right now. How long do you think this squad will last? The only thing you’ll find here is frustration!”
It was impossible to tell if the person in the car was trying to convince the crowd or themselves, but they certainly sounded more confident the longer they spoke. While the transfer to the B Squads were mandatory, the higher-ups did give them the choice to pick their own squad. If they truly couldn’t stomach the idea of working for the Eleventh Squadron, then forcing themselves to serve under them would only be detrimental to everyone. They might as well leave now and find a B Squadron they believed to be stronger and had a brighter future.
The logic made sense, so some of the undecided ultimately made up their minds and returned to the flying car. The followers who didn’t have a sense of independence to begin also followed the group back into the vehicle. All except one young man.
“Yo panda eyes! Are you coming or not? If you’re not, we're leaving!” The person shouted at the last guy still standing there. After several more shouts to no avail, they threw a pebble at the young man’s head and finally got a reaction. Even so, it took him a couple of seconds before he finally looked up.
The young man looked to be about fifteen to sixteen years old. His most defining feature was the black circles surrounding his eyes. The person had called him “panda eyes” for a reason.
The young man scratched his head and blinked a couple of times at the guy by the car entrance. He opened his mouth and said slowly, “... what?”
“What, my ass! I say, we’re going back to HQ! Are you coming with us? If not then we’re leaving!”
“What? Weren’t we heading to the Eleventh Squad?” The young man looked around himself as if he just woke up until he noticed that Mogas’ group was already some distance away. Then, he took off to a brisk run toward the group while yelling, “Hey, wait for me! I don’t know the way here!”
“Fucker!” The guy in the car swore once before closing the door. A moment later, the vehicle was gone like it never came.
Back to the group, Mogas hadn’t stopped motoring his mouth since they started walking toward the base.
“Why did you choose to come to the Eleventh Squad, Phoebe?” Mogas asked.
“I rolled my dice yesterday, and they combined to make up the number eleven.” Phoebe puffed up her chest a bit and pulled her long, curly hair behind her ears. “I trust in my intuition!”
A stranger might find her reasoning strange, but Mogas was not a stranger to Phoebe. He removed his laser gaze from the woman’s breasts and said, “More like your two dice is your so-called intuition.”
“What about you, Kong Lujia?” Mogas turned toward another person.
At first glance, Kong Lujia looked like an attractive and gentle-looking young woman. However, a closer look would reveal that she wasn’t as soft as she appeared. Her eyes reminded people of an owl; a predator in the dark.
“Doesn’t matter. It’s all the same,” replied Kong Lujia. She thought that Mogas’ question was completely pointless.
The decision which member should transfer to which had been made swiftly because one, the A Squads didn’t have time to investigate the B Squads thoroughly, and two, they had never really paid attention to the B Squads until recently, much less the whole new Eleventh Squadron. As a result, most people only knew that the Eleventh Squad was a newly formed squadron with a ridiculously small crew that tended toward the younger side, has no big achievements and no record on the regiment’s merit leaderboard.
Mogas was gossiping about a senior in the A Squad to the girls when he noticed that Mao had suddenly come to a stop. He followed his gaze and noticed that there was a man sitting at the base’s entrance.
This would’ve been fine if they hadn’t just looked at the base entrance a moment ago and saw no one. When did he get there, and how? It was like a breathless, lifeless statue that had suddenly popped into existence, and yet he was so eye-catching that they found themselves unable to tear their eyes away from him.
Who is this person? How did the Eleventh Squad come by someone like him?
All five hunters were very puzzled right now.
The “statue” was none other than Czedow. The robot was currently reading a paperback and ignoring the five hunters completely. If it wasn’t for his hand turning the pages occasionally, they could’ve easily mistaken as an actual statue. The hunters chose to stare at him in silence until—
—the door opened and brought it to a stop. A middle-aged man holding an alcohol bottle and smelling like one stretched his upper body from behind the opening and stared at the five hunters for a moment. After noting that there was no one else behind them, he took a sip from the bottle and let out a quiet sigh.
“There’s only five of you?” Shusag took another two gulps before turning toward Czedow. “Told you our Eleventh Squad isn’t popular.”
All five hunters wore an odd look on their faces. The words sounded like they should be spoken in a sorrowful and morose tone, and yet the drunken-seeming uncle was really beaming like the sun itself!