"It's so nice to know you're all right, sir!"
Whether it was true or not, when Zhang Tie caught sight of Pi Ping's slippery expression, he really felt warm inside and not hostile toward him. Zhang Tie was very good at making contact with these kind of people when he was in Donder's grocery store, so when he saw Second Lieutenant Pi Ping, he was not modest to him either. He instead hooked his hand around Second Lieutenant Pi Ping's shoulders and brought him into his office.
Since he became the director of the logistics administration two weeks ago, it was Zhang Tie's first time entering the director's office of this vehicle maintenance plant.
The office featured a military style—a desk, a sofa, a filing cabinet, some drawings on the structures of steam-driven engines and vehicles hanging on the wall. No more decoration besides these items. However, although Zhang Tie hadn't come here these days, the office was still well cleaned.
Entering the office, Zhang Tie instantly threw himself onto the sofa with eyes fixed on Second Lieutenant Pi Ping.
"Well, no crap, I know you're well-informed. Tell me what happened last night..."
Second Lieutenant Pi Ping had already realized that this military officer retired from the Iron-Blood Camp was different from others as he was more easygoing. However, actually, he was more complicated. As his subordinate, Pi Ping actually liked this kind of military officer. What Second Lieutenant Pi Ping feared most were those eccentric guys who didn't know anything but wanted to manage everything. If such a director came to the No. 9 Equipment Administration, that would be the nightmare of everybody here.
What Zhang Tie didn't know was that during the past two weeks, his indifferent attitude was even praised by people here. They all felt that he was a good officer and a good director.
Before telling Zhang Tie the news, Second Lieutenant Pi Ping glanced outside the office. After ensuring that nobody was there, he closed the door himself before moving close to Zhang Tie like a thief.
"I have a friend in the air-defense camp. He said many people were killed last night. One important warehouse of our Logistics Department was exploded by the airship of the Brilliant Feathers!" Second Lieutenant Pi Ping said, his voice low.
Zhang Tie became curious. "Was that really an explosive?"
"Really!" Second Lieutenant Pi Ping nodded. "It's said that this was Sun Dynasty's revenge. Because a couple of days ago, our Mad Shark Airship threw some heavy-type white phosphorous gel combustion bombs at the battle castle where their headquarters was located in the evening. Many people were killed there. The morale of Sun Dynasty was also weakened. Therefore, their move last night was to avenge themselves!"
Zhang Tie only felt frustrated. More revenge?
Sometimes, wars between two countries and between two armies were no different from brawls between 3-5 year old kids. When you give me a fist, I will give you a kick. No one wanted to suffer a loss. However, compared to brawls between kids, this revenge was more terrifying and bloody and would cause more people to lose their lives.
After the heads of the people of the Iron-Horn Army were chopped off, the people of the Iron-Blood Camp had to chop off their enemy's heads in revenge. As the Iron-Horn Army's air troop threw heavy-type white phosphorous gel combustion bombs towards the battle castle where the opponent's headquarters was located, the opponent drove an airship into the air territory of Blapei and threw off explosives onto a logistics base of the Iron-Horn Army,
Zhang Tie felt that perhaps, the battle castle in the frontline had long prepared for the sneak attack from the Brilliant Feathers. Then, since they couldn't find a chance to launch a sneak attack in there, the Brilliant Feathers extended the battle line to the back of the Iron-Horn Army and directly hit the most important part Due to the limited transportation capabilities, the logistics guarantee was truly one of the most essential parts of the Iron-Horn Army.
"Have their airship been brought down?"
After asking this question, Zhang Tie felt like an idiot. If the opponent's airship could casually drop off bombs onto the Iron-Horn Army's logistics base in Blapei which was more than 100 km away from the frontline and leave without sustaining any damage, the war would not have lasted this long.
"Done, that's what the trouble is!"
"It's said that our air-defense troop had truly hit their airship, so it crashed in a location over 20 km away to the south of Blapei. However, when our troop arrived there, with the exception of some dead people in the airship, all the rest had disappeared. This is the biggest trouble. Now, nobody knows where the rest people from the airship had gone."
Second Lieutenant Pi Ping let out a sigh.
"We didn't find many corpses on the airship, which means that all the others had left. This is big trouble since nobody knows whether those guys escaped back to their zone or are staying here. If some intelligence agents of the opponent who were lurking in Blapei take action together with those people who had fled, nobody can know what may happen next. If those guys have another bomb, they might even directly rush into the parliament house of Blapei as suicide bombers!"
Hearing Pi Ping's words, Zhang Tie understood why the atmosphere in Blapei suddenly became tense. This was not only because of the explosion that occurred last night but that it had been confirmed that the dangerous opponents were lurking somewhere in Blapei. Even in his military uniform, Zhang Tie had still been requested to present his military officer's certificate three times on the way from his residence to the maintenance plant of the Ninth Equipment Administration of the Comprehensive Logistics Relief Department.
In order to catch those fleeing people, all the soldiers of the division stationed in Blapei walked through the streets. They started to set checking points to investigate all the passers-by. By doing this, although they could not immediately catch those potential dangerous people, they could at least limit their movements to a degree. Before finally catching or killing them, this was the only method to deal with those people.
"Does the Iron-Horn Army have explosives?"
The word bomb reminded Zhang Tie of a question that he was interested in.
"Yes, they have. But the explosives of the army are the most important strategic material. Because they're very rare and precious, all the explosives's assignments and use had to be approved and signed by the commander of the Iron-Horn Army. In the entire Norman Empire, all the explosives are controlled by the imperial households. The only two alchemist masters who can produce explosives in the Norman Empire are both members of the royal seniors cabinet!"
Zhang Tie had only heard of the alchemist profession in legends. It was mentioned in the book "Initial Exploration about the Special Professions of Human Beings in the Black Iron Age" a couple of days ago. Whether in legends or reality, alchemists were ten times more rare than medicinal pharmacists. It was regarded as the most mysterious, wealthy, and terrifying profession in the Black Iron Age.
Although many cities of the former Andaman Alliance had medicinal pharmacists like Abyan, in the entire Andaman Alliance, there were no alchemists at all. Alchemists would spend their whole lives dealing with various weird stones and crystals. As long as they had a stone or a crystal, they would be able to turn it into a treasure that could be used to fight, cultivate, cure diseases, even to improve the attributes of a number of metals and machines.
After being processed by alchemists, many common crystals and stones could become ten thousand times more valuable, even more expensive than gold. As these people were truly able to touch a stone and turn it into gold, they were called alchemists. It was not only a description of their profession but people's obvious admiration for it.
Alchemists were the only group of people who could produce explosives. A person, once he became an alchemist, would never care about money any more. If one took the Norman Empire as an example, once any alchemist in this country was found to be able to produce explosives, he could instantly marry a royal offspring. Through kinship, that person would then benefit the Norman Empire on a military aspect.
Alchemists had many nicknames like "treasure producers", "mobile vaults", "human bombs", and "thermal weapon time-travelers in cold weapons era". It seemed that because of the last nickname which mentioned both science and technology before the catastrophe, many countries in the Blackson Human Clan Corridor would take owning an alchemist who could produce explosives as the symbol of powerful national strength and status.
The former Andaman Alliance had once intended to attract an alchemist with the chief position and a great amount of benefits. Unluckily, they failed.
When Zhang Tie arrived at the logistics base in the wild, over 30 km south of Blapei, the airship which had caused great turmoil and damage was scattered on the ground in pieces. This airship which was used to launch the sneak attack was painted dark.
Its pod was over 15 m in height. At this moment, the airship originally longer than 50 m had become a transformed rigid skeleton. For the coated fabric of the airship's air sac, besides a few remains, all the other parts were burned into solid pitch-dark carbides and were scattered around the pod and the airship's skeleton. Some corpses in aqua blue military uniforms were lying inside the wrecked pod in various shapes.
A group of soldiers in dark red military uniform of the Norman Empire had already blocked the scene. A group of people in black windbreakers were looking for something among the dead soldiers of Sun Dynasty, accompanied by some military officers of the Norman Empire. The surrounding soldiers were glancing at the sanguine gloves of those people in black windbreakers with weird eyes.
Those people in sanguine gloves were the main characters in all the darkest stories of the Norman Empire. They were the representatives of the cold and bloody side of the Norman Empire. If its soldiers were a group of fierce tigers, the group of people in sanguine gloves were a weird hybrid of jackals that lived on rotten meat and vipers that sprouted venom.
These people came from another powerful department of the Norman Empire besides the army—Order Review Committee. These people were "national secret police on order maintenance" under the affiliation of the Order Review Committee.
In Nordinburg, everybody knew that the viscount Nordinton, the head of secret police, and marshal Lin Changjiang didn't like each other.
Besides their superior, nobody else liked them in the entire Norman Empire.
Because of the explosion last night, these people appeared in Blapei like flies that had smelt a stink. This event was within the governing category of the Iron-Horn Army, however, these people in sanguine gloves wanted to get involve due to two reasons.
First, the explosion was a special event threatening national security. With the exception of explosions on the battlefield, the investigation of all the other explosions in the Norman Empire was carried out by the Order Review Committee.
Second, according to the laws of the Norman Empire, the Iron-Horn Army could only govern the area within 100 km of the frontline of Kalur's battle zone. Since Blapei was out of this area, although the victim of this explosion case was the Iron-Horn Army, the Order Review Committee still had the right to investigate this case.
Because the Order Review Committee of Nordinburg had sent a notice to the Iron-Horn Army, they expected that it would coordinate with the secret police to investigate this explosion case. So once they came to Blapei, even though unwilling, the military officers of the Iron-Horn Army were dispatched here to assist these people who accomplished their own tasks with cold expressions. Additionally, they should report the latest events and discoveries of the Iron-Horn Army to those in sanguine gloves when the latter inquired about what had happened last night.
The head of these people in red sanguine gloves and black windbreakers was a major, a 30-odd man with white hair and a pair of eyes as cruel as those of a wolf.
"Major, after our troop arrived here, we blocked the scene and it had remained unchanged. On the ground over 500 m away from the site where the airship crashed, our soldiers discovered truck tire marks which extended to the south. It's estimated that those fleeing had been picked up. We..."
The man in gray hair who was carefully checking the corpses revealed a wisp of an icy smile. At the same time, he raised his hand and interrupted the military officer who was reporting what had happened last night.
"No need to say it, I've already guessed what happened next. Your people found that truck over 10 km away with nobody inside. Then you investigated the source of that truck and learned that the truck has been stolen in Blapei several days ago. After that, you judged that those people had escaped to the south, right captain?"
Revealing a surprised expression, the captain asked, "How do you know?"
"Congratulations, captain, you've successfully let go of a group of dangerous Sun Dynasty's people. When your were attracted by that truck driving to the south, the remaining saboteurs of the Sun Dynasty had escaped to the north. If you had changed your direction and chased after them at once, we might not be here. Those spies of the Sun Dynasty who hid in Blapei clearly knew how to trick you..."
That gray-haired major put it straightforwardly. The captain's face blushed so much that he could not even say a word, while a major who belonged to the same No. 21 Division as the captain wanted to argue more.
"Major Franca, our soldiers tried our best last night. With only one glance, how could you confirm those people on the airship had fled to the north, instead of the south?"
"Of course I can!" Major Franca from the the Order Review Committee of Norman Empire said with an icy expression.
He took off his gloves and stretched hi index finger. In front of the military officers of No. 21 Division, he squatted down and thrust his index finger into the hard skull of a corpse like he was thrusting it into a bean curd.
He then moved up his index finger into the cranial cavity of that corpse before pulling it out with red and white brains juice. He then directly put it into his mouth and started to carefully taste it, eyes closed, as if he was tasting a yummy food.
Although the military officers of No. 21 Division standing nearby were used to seeing corpses, at the sight of this behavior of tasting dead people's brains, their faces turned pale at once. They felt a bit disgusted and chilled, especially by that weird smile on major Franca's face when he tasted the brains.
After a long while, Major Franca opened his eyes and licked his lips as if he had enjoyed the taste of the brains.
"These people's brains taste like bitter Parmelia saxatilis. It's the aftereffect of Sun Dynasty's secret medicine when it was applied on people. Those who take it would trigger their physical potential for a short time. They also become very clear-minded, although they don't live too long.
"Only dare-to-die corps would take this secret medicine. After taking it, in the troops of the Sun Dynasty, they had only one target—death instead of fleeing. These people would also face a death penalty even if they fled back.
"Before they arrived here, all of them had prepared not to go back alive. Therefore, they escaped to the north instead of to the south. If they escaped to the south, they would be held back by your frontline troops, however, if they escaped to the north, they could deal their damage to the greatest extent. In Blapei, they were picked up by spies of the Sun Dynasty. Additionally, their airship crashed in the south in order to cause an illusion for you that they were escaping to the south..."
"This is still your presumption!" the major of No. 21 Division kept arguing, face turning a bit pale.
"These people on the airship had died when the airship crashed. Those fleeing had to have been wounded, some even heavily. As they could not get medical treatment when escaping, even if they had strong vitality, their wounds must be deteriorating, which led to inconvenient movement. They would encumber the whole team. Based on the style of the Sun Dynasty, in this case, those heavily wounded people would be killed.
"Once we search all the way to the north while avoiding major routes, we will discover something..." Major Franca gazed at the officers of No. 21 Division with wolf-like sharp eyes, revealing a contemptuous smile. "You're good at fighting on the battlefield, but I'm not here to be your counter-intelligence enlightening teacher. I only hope that if what I said is true, before finding those potential saboteurs, yo won't interfere with my moves in Blapei. As my time is very precious, I don't want to waste too much time in Blapei for some trivial roles."
Forcefully holding back their fury, the military officers of No. 21 Division exchanged glances with each other before nodding.
"Fuck, if not assigned here, nobody would want to stay with these guys in red gloves," they mumbled inside.
Twenty minutes later, in a wild ditch 5 km to the north of the crashing site, they found the first corpse. It was buried underground. However, as it had not been buried too long ago and was hurriedly dealt with in the evening, even though the people of the Sun Dynasty had covered it up, it was still discovered by Major Franca.
In another place less than 2 km away from the first one, the second corpse was discovered...