Chapter 568 Isolated and helpless
The Pyro Company members carried the explosives on their backs as they searched for traces of the Experimentals on the battlefield. As long as they saw any Experimentals, they would charge at it in a bid to take the enemy down together with them. It was precisely because the Pyro Company was participating in the battle that the chaotic situation had reversed.
30 members of the Pyro Company had joined the reinforcements this time, a total of six squads comprising three Midnight and three Dusk squads.
Their physical fitness was not as good as the Experimentals that walked upright, but it was enough for them to launch a suicide attack against these creatures. They were trading a life for a life!
Before this, the Zhou Consortium soldiers did not really take a liking to the Pyro Company members, because they always felt they were too shady and did not communicate well with the Zhou Consortium’s troops.
But at this moment, everyone admired them from the bottom of their hearts.
The Pyro Company that clearly did not have a good reputation was now standing up to fight alongside them.
They had always heard of some supernatural beings who were particularly powerful that existed in the Central Plains. But where were those supernatural beings now?
Very quickly, only two out of the dozen or so Experimentals that walked upright were left after the suicide attacks. And without the help of these walkers, the Experimentals found it very difficult to get past the 2nd Division’s heavy machine gun positions.
Just as hope started growing in all the soldiers and commanders of 2nd Division, someone suddenly shouted, “Another dozen walking Experimentals are climbing up the mountain!”
But it was too late by the time that was said.
Suddenly, one of the Experimentals carried a strange-looking bag of items and charged into the Zhou Consortium troops. Following that, dust and pieces of flesh were sent flying everywhere with a loud bang.
The 2nd Division’s commander who was watching from afar was dumbfounded. This time, it was the Experimentals launching suicide bombings against them.
The Experimentals were starting to use firearms and explosives!
The commander of 2nd Division had a heavy expression as he said, “Retreat, orderly retreat!”
Whenever a time like this came, it was always difficult to make any decisions. If a portion of the troops were going to evacuate, it would mean a portion of them would have to stay behind forever. In fact, some of the soldiers might even get assimilated into new Experimentals.
In the end, the Experimentals’ numbers did not really decrease by much after the battle. Furthermore, if the soldiers with stronger physical fitness were turned into Experimentals, they might even end up as those walking Experimentals that were exceptionally strong.
The Experimentals seemed to have their own selection criteria for new Experimentals.
The Qing Consortium had calculated the statistics before. It seemed the Experimentals had a 7% chance of choosing someone to be assimilated as one of them.
If 2nd Division were to retreat now, they should be able to retain two-thirds of their troop strength. After all, a division with more than ten thousand troops was not that easy to defeat.
But the commander of 2nd Division was more concerned about the fact that if the Experimentals were capable of using firearms and explosives, it would make it even more difficult for Stronghold 74, which was isolated and helpless, in future sieges.
They could only hope the Experimentals did not know how to drive tanks.
The Experimentals did not chase after them either and only watched silently from the forest with ferocious expressions as the Zhou Consortium troops retreated.
Meanwhile, the forest by that mountain path was still burning with raging flames. As the fire spread further, it left behind only dark ashes and ruins in its path.
When news of the reinforcements’ defeat reached Stronghold 74, the stronghold residents felt like they were struck by lightning.
It became obvious that the porridge given out at the porridge stands had suddenly become very thin, as though there were almost no rice grains in it.
It wasn’t that there was no more food left in Stronghold 74 but that the Zhou Consortium troops were preparing to fight a prolonged war.
If the reinforcements could not make it here, it would be left to them to continue defending the stronghold, and no one knew how much longer they would have to fight for.
When some of the residents realized there were barely any rice grains in the porridge, they immediately started making a fuss at a porridge stand. They shouted at the person who was giving out the porridge, “Look at how thin the porridge has become!”
With that said, these people actually flipped the porridge stand!
However, after the porridge stand was destroyed, the men in charge of the stand rushed out and started beating up the troublemakers with sticks. The people who had flipped the porridge stand were beaten beyond recognition.
The men who attacked them were extremely fierce. They were absolutely making an example out of these people to establish their dominance!
Very quickly, a reporter brought a photo he had taken and went to the Zhou Consortium to ask for an explanation. The Zhou Consortium’s reply was that this company was not a business arm under them, but that they would definitely investigate the matter thoroughly.
An hour later, the Zhou Consortium announced the perpetrators had been fired and considered that an explanation to the residents.
When Ren Xiaosu heard about this, he laughed. He had been wondering why the Zhou Consortium did not run the porridge stands in their own name. So it turned out it was because they could explain themselves to the media if anyone got beaten up at the stands.
After the troublemakers got beaten up, they could just fire the people running the stands and wash their hands of the matter.
This “company” was purely used for taking any blame.
This was not a pretty move, and it could even be considered a little underhanded. However, no one dared to make trouble at the porridge stands anymore. Even the residents who previously caused trouble in the stronghold had settled down. They understood the beatings at the porridge stand was a signal: The Zhou Consortium’s patience was running thin, so they had better not go looking for trouble.
Three days passed, and all that the stronghold residents were thinking about was collecting porridge at the porridge stands.
A week passed, but there were still no updates from the reinforcements that were supposed to be arriving. It seemed like the Zhou Consortium troops were also in a difficult position and did not know how to deal with the Experimentals.
The entire stronghold seemed to be getting more and more depressed by the day. There were very few pedestrians out on the streets. Even if there were, they were also begging for food on the sidewalk. The trees on the streets did not even have any bark left as they had been stripped bare and eaten.
It was not that the Zhou Consortium was not handing out food on purpose. Rather, they did not have much rations anymore. Even the food for the Zhou Consortium troops had been reduced. To express solidarity with the army, Zhou Xingwen even moved into the military barracks where he lived and ate with the rest. This showed he did not get any special treatment, and that all of them were going through this difficult time together.
Li Ran and the others were somewhat glad that Ren Xiaosu had told Fang Zhi to bribe the private troops’ officers and bought some military rations from them. Otherwise, they would all be starving by now.
However, Ren Xiaosu specifically instructed them, “Don’t use the hotel’s kitchen when you’re cooking. There’s an exhaust fan in there. Also, close the doors tight and don’t let the smell get out.”
Fang Zhi controlled all their food, and Ren Xiaosu did not take any extra for himself. Li Ran carefully asked Ren Xiaosu, “I heard from Fang Zhi that the food we bought can only last for another two days at most. What are we going to do next?”
After all, the tour group had many staff members. Even though they bought some food back, it would not be enough to feed everyone.
Ren Xiaosu looked at Li Ran’s expectant gaze and shook his head. “I don’t know what to do either.”
“If there really aren’t any reinforcements coming, can you and Zhou Yingxue save me from here?” Li Ran asked anxiously.
Ren Xiaosu looked at her and answered, “I don’t know.”