Han Tuhu gave no reply. His glittering eyes suggested that he was quickly calculating with all of his braincells.
“I’ve got it.”
Five minutes later, when white mist was popping up from his forehead, he nodded and said solemnly, “You’re right. It is impossible to conquer the Blood Demon Sector quickly. Then, we have only one choice now.
“You’ve convinced me, Major Li. I can cooperate with the demons temporarily like we did in the Nether World.
“Of course, that is, if the demons are willing to cooperate with us, too, although I do not have high hopes for that.”
Li Yao felt excited. He had finally made the hardest first step! He said sincerely, “Thank you, Colonel Han. I thought”
Li Yao did not know how he should express his complicated feelings.
“You thought that I would label you to be a traitor of the federation who conspires with foreigners, didn’t you?” asked Han Tuhu.
Li Yao scratched his hair and nodded. “More or less.”
Han Tuhu smiled. “I never thought that way. However, after such a choice is made, I’m afraid that many people in the federation will label us as such. But it doesn’t matter. It is perhaps the greatest glory for a soldier of the federation to be grouped together with an ‘Ultra-Level Federal Hero’!”
“I believe that people will understand us one day,” Li Yao said.
Han Tuhu smiled again. He said casually, “I want to tell you a story, Major Li, about the ‘Battle of Dawn’.
“The Battle of Dawn was the first full-scale, strategic attack against the Heaven’s Origin Sector. Different from the previous outbursts of beast tides, it was the regular army of the Blood Demon Sector that was deployed, including almost all the main forces of the Nether Spring Kingdom and the Kingdom of Lion Butchers!
“In the Battle of Dawn, the federal army was completely eclipsed. Both strategies and tactics were a mess. The troops were marching all the time, but they still suffered a series of defeats, until the entire Grand Desolate Plateau was lost in the end. Even the Grand Desolate War Institution, Major Li’s mother school, was burnt to the ground. The enemy moved forward all the way to the Giant Blade Pass, the boundary of the Grand Desolate Plateau and the heartland. It was doubtlessly the most humiliating battle in the past three hundred years.
“The entire federation was in a panic, dominated by pessimism.
“However, at that time, nobody knew that the federal army collapsed so fast partly because it was really collapsing and partly because the failures were intentional. A highly-confidential plancode-named ‘Giant Crab Operation’was being carried out!
“It was true that we were not well prepared for the first overwhelming attack of the Blood Demon Sector, and we suffered tremendous losses at the beginning of the battle.
“However, after ten years of groundwork, the federation had established sixteen legions that were fully equipped with crystal suits. More than 70% of the soldiers in the legions were armed with the ‘Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit’, which was partly designed by you, Major Li. The assault team and the officers were even fortified with crystal suits of more advanced models!
“With the sixteen crystal suit legions, we had the capability to stop the coalition army of demons at the north of the Grand Desolate Plateau. We could have simply driven them back into the Blood Demon Sector!
“However, after the General Staff evaluated the situation of the battle, a very risky decision was made. They planned to fake a defeat and tempt the enemy deeper so that we would be able to swallow the main force of the coalition army. Not a living soul was going back to the Blood Demon Sector!
“Many towns were abandoned by us, and many faults in our strategies were made on purpose, in order to mislead the coalition army of demons into making a wrong judgement about our capability and intentions!
“Both the soldiers and the civilians paid an extremely high price just so that the Grand Desolate Plateau would become a graveyard for the coalition army of demons!
“While the coalition army of demons marched forward unstoppably on the Grand Desolate Plateau and finally reached the Giant Blade Pass at the south of the Grand Desolate Plateau, their supply line was longer and longer, and even the toughest soldiers of the demon race were showing signs of fatigue.
“In the meantime, twelve of the sixteen crystal suit legions of the federation were moving to the rear of the coalition army of demons from their flanks quietly, like the two pinchers of a giant crab, hoping to cut off the connection between the enemy and the Blood Demon Sector and keep them in the Heaven’s Origin Sector forever!
“The plan was like a dance on a razor blade. It was highly risky. Naturally, it was a top secret.
“In order to hide the plan, and to explain why the crystal suit legions did not show up on the Grand Desolate Plateau, the General Staff and the Department of Defense made quite a good play. The federal army pretended that it was preserving the strength and merely defending passively in panic. The speaker of the Department of Defense was also asked to spread out talks such as ‘crystal suit legions are not built easily and should not be wasted’. Ostensibly, the sixteen crystal suit legions were all mobilized to the major cities in the inland, especially those around the capital, as if unwilling to be deployed.
“My Flying Tigers Legion was one of the earliest legions in the federation to be equipped with crystal suits. We were moved back to the capital city.
“But nobody knew that the real Flying Tigers Legion was marching clandestinely in the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau. The ‘crystal suits’ that showed up around the capital city were but vivid models and 3D projections.
“The strategical deception was very successful. The coalition army of demons knew nothing about our real purpose. They thought that they could break through the Giant Blade Pass as long as they worked a little bit harder. Therefore, they continued their bombardment despite the difficulties of their supply.
“But the citizens of the federation were fooled at the same time.
“All the citizens burst into fury as the federal army continued to retreat!
“During that period, the federal army was a target for everybody. Countless furious citizens were cursing. For ten years, the nation had been in the highest warring state, and the military budget had been multiplied. Everybody was offering whatever money they had to establish the sixteen crystal suit legions. They claimed to be invincible, but where were they exactly when a real battle broke out?
“Many celebrities were posting through various social media platforms. Why were the crystal suit legions still cowering in the major cities in the heartland when the situation on the Grand Desolate Plateau was so urgent? Had the crystal suits been installed with power rune arrays or not? Were they nothing more than fixed turrets?
“A lot of citizens were mailing turtle shells and soft shrimps to the Department of Defense and the General Staff, scorning our gutlessness.
“When the soldiers in military uniform walked on the street, they were often surrounded by angry citizens, who would question what they were fighting for. Did they only care about the officials and big shots living in the capital city and around? Were the citizens on the Grand Desolate Plateau nothing to them?
“The most serious incident was that the students of the First Military Academy and the Second Military Academy, along with the students of the ‘Nine Elite Universities’, started a demonstration.
“At that time, Admiral Zhang Siqian, a speaker of the Department of Defense, declared by the order of his supervisor in the media that there were still issues regarding the performance of the Mystic Skeleton Battlesuit and it would be best to ask them to defend the cities to avoid unnecessary losses.
“As a result, Admiral Zhang Siqian was vilified as a capitulator. One of his personal residences was even burnt to the ground by the angry students.
“As for me, as a commander of a ‘leisure legion’ stationed in the capital city, I was naturally slandered, too. Titles such as ‘traitor of the federation’ are nothing new to me.
“Right. ‘Leisure legion’ was a nickname that the public gave the crystal suit legions at that time.
“I remember that, half a month before the ‘Giant Crab Operation’ was put into action, I appeared in the capital city to participate in the parade to celebrate the establishment of the federation.
“It was also part of the strategical deception. I was going to fly into the depths of the Grand Desolate Plateau at night and lead the Flying Tigers Legion to become the first crystal suit legion to charge at the enemy!
“According to the plan, once the two ‘pincers’ of the ‘giant crab’ closed, my Flying Tigers Legion would pierce into the feeble part of the link between the coalition army of demons and the Blood Demon Sector at quickly as possible in order to cut off their connection.
“It was not hard to imagine that the enemy would definitely try their best to reestablish the connection to their homeland. The troops from the Blood Demon Sector would reinforce them crazily, too.
“The Flying Tigers Legion would suffer attacks from both sides and endure the most pressure. It was very likely that the entire legion would be wiped out. Everybody, from me to the cook, was prepared to be sacrificed.
“At that time, my only son was studying at the First Military Academy in the capital city. The General Staff gave me half an hour’s leave so that I could meet him, who was also participating in the parade, when it was over.
“Naturally, he did not know anything about the ‘Giant Crab Operation’, nor did he know that it was going to be the last time we would meet.
“However, do you know what he did after he met me?”
Li Yao was deeply engrossed in the story. He asked, “What did he do?”
Han Tuhu seemed to be laughing. “The little brat tossed a handful of calcium tablets toward me heavily the moment he saw me. He said, ‘Why are you shameless enough to join the parade? You should grow a spine!’ Then, he left without even looking back.
“From the beginning to the end, I never had a chance to speak to him.”
Li Yao was silent for a moment before he asked softly, “Did the Giant Crab Operation work out?”
“Of course not.” Han Tuhu smiled bitterly. “However, it was not because of our problem, but because something went wrong within the coalition army of demons.
“According to our plan, as long as the coalition army of demons continued attacking the Giant Blade Pass for three days, no more, the siege would have been completed. Even if my Flying Tigers Legion was to be wiped out, I would not let a single pest of the coalition army of demons escape to the Blood Demon Sector!
“But nobody expected a mutiny of the low-level demons in the frontline!
“The mutiny of the low-level demons caused the collapse of the coalition army of demons. Their main force made the decision quickly. They abandoned all the cannon fodder in the frontline and ran back to the Blood Demon Sector as rapidly as possible.
“The incident was far beyond our expectations. We could only shift our strategy temporarily and attacked them in advance. It was why I followed Suo Chaolong for thousands of kilometers and eventually caught up to him in the Dark Desolate Domain. Then, we both ended up as captives.
“It’s funny when you think about it. We planned carefully for more than half a year. We paid countless sacrifices and shouldered the most vicious curses. We were so close to victory, but our plan failed because of the enemy’s own problem.
“But this is how a war goes. You never know what will happen next.”
Li Yao sighed. “Right now, your son must understand your reasons and feel sorry for what he did.”
“You didn’t get the point of my story, Major Li.”
Han Tuhu put the military hat on his head squarely again and soothed all the crinkles on it. He then moved the red star medal to the center of the hat. “What I’m trying to say is, I do not care whether the brat or any other people understand or feel sorry for me. It doesn’t matter even if they despise and detest me forever.
“I don’t need their sympathy.
“I only want them to live on.”