After a full day of torture, Zhang Shan had lost hope in finding people in the desert. When he finally reached his destination, he saw soldiers taking the identification documents of seven people at the gate. "Welcome to Gil Base. Everyone, this way please."
"Please only move within the allowed area. You may also leave the base, but please note that 2200 is the night curfew of the camp. This is the dormitory for Ares College. Let us meet at the main hall at 1600. The Europa quarters are on the other side. This way please."
A soldier, the escort for Wang Zheng and company, allocated them to their living quarters after a quick introduction of the rules of the base and then promptly departed.
The standard arrangement for the dorm was similar to that of an elite team - there were six single bedrooms as well as a living room and a bathroom.
Zhang Shan cheered, "Bath time!"
After a dusty journey, a shower was more enjoyable than ever.
Zhang Runan extended her hand, immediately dragging Zhang Shan back, and occupied a bathroom.
Meng Tian occupied the other washroom. At times, women's privileges were still particularly important.
"Mountain Maiden, you should fight for your rights. Be more assertive." Wang Zheng laughed.
"Oh, please, it is only a matter of time before you call me Brother Shan."
Such a nickname - Mountain Maiden - will bring a lifetime of pain.
After the four people showered, at 1530, after taking a look at the area around the base, they proceeded to meet in the main hall.
There were already many people gathered in the main hall.
Among the group of people, there was a particular individual who was particularly attention-grabbing. She was wearing the summer military uniform of Mars and had a pair of gorgeous, slender legs. Her skin color approximated the color of wheat. She looked youthful and energetic, wearing a body-hugging dress that made her look not only seductive but also dangerous.
As Wang Zheng entered, people glossed over him. Their attention was instead drawn to Zhang Runan.
Everyone made insipid attempts at greetings. Ares College's performance at the first stage was fairly outstanding and hence invited competition. Numerous unfriendly gazes were directed at them.
In this first phase, everyone was still testing the waters. Now that the second phase had begun, the real unforgiving competition had started. At this stage, no one dared to take unnecessary risks.
When the Moon's Achilles, Mars' Lie Xin, and Earth's Lear all stepped up, it was certain that a leader would emerge from the three of them. Even the position of the assistant leader was particularly contentious. Ares College was just too weak compared to them. The second phase naturally became a central highlight as it was a litmus test for not only one's ambitions but also friendships.
There was something crucial about this - at the second stage, one had to choose who to follow.
There were five captains, and among them, there was only one real leader. Only by following the real leader could one emerge victories. Given that no more than 12 people would get to go to Aslan, once one followed the wrong person, even if they performed extremely well, they would be disqualified. Hence, the captains had the greatest power as they would choose who would go with them.
The first phase was fun and exciting, but the second phase was serious. One's ability to work as a team was extremely important. The status difference between one who went to Aslan and one who had to leave IG was completely different. One would be able to enter the military after this competition, and this competition would affect their future results in the military.
At the same time, being able to attain the qualifications to represent the Solar System was truly the greatest honor.
At this point, everyone did well in the field of intelligence, regardless of whether it was spying on the opponents or keeping one's own secrets. Relative to others, Ares College was unguarded since everyone already knew pretty much everything about them.
They had four mecha in total, and they employed the most basic systems. Although their training hours each day were long, the mecha were too restrictive in combat. Just a slight knock and the mecha would stop working to prevent excessive damage to it. This was essentially a joke. It was too pathetic to be considered a weapon for war.
"At the stage, even if you hold back, Ares College will definitely be eliminated."
"That is not certain. At this stage, they are too selective. Perhaps if Meng Tian and Zheng Runan use their true strength, they might be able to stay.
"Perhaps. But it is just two of them. Mountain Maiden will…"
"Although Wang Zheng is pretty good, it is a shame that he is too jumpy. Besides, he does not possess an Ability X.
"It is too difficult to struggle to be a central power. Only by conserving our strength can we emerge victorious against the rest."
Regarding personal assessments, there actually were people who had a good impression of Wang Zheng. It was a shame that in the survival of the fittest, good impressions meant nothing.
On top of that, there was a rumor that Wang Zheng had offended the five captains. At this point, it was perhaps better to keep a distance from Wang Zheng.
Lie Guang, who was slightly interested in the discussion around him, suddenly rose and walked towards Wang Zheng.
In that moment, everyone in the main hall quietened down. Lie Xin was convinced by the rumor regarding Wang Zheng. Although it was Lie Guang's first appearance, his reputation preceded him. Everyone knew who he was. Lie Xin would not take action against Wang Zheng. However, the same cannot be said given Lie Guang's terrible temper.
Was he going to stir trouble? Would an exciting drama ensue?
"Wang Zheng, long time no see."
Lie Guang took the initiative to greet Wang Zheng with a high-five.
Clap. Wang Zheng laughed and returned the greeting with Lie Guang. "Let me introduce these people - Zhang Shan, Zhang Runan, Meng Tian."
"Nice to meet you… Wang Zheng, can't you be a good human being? I just heard that you offended this person and that person. Your behavior is even worse than someone like me… and I often deal in underhanded means!"
Lie Guang laughed. He was indeed a timely reinforcement for Lie Xin, specially selected to join the training at this point. Every general had some special authority to nurture their soldiers as well as to insert sufficiently capable individuals into the teams. However, no one would speak like Lie Guang. Nevertheless, this made Lie Guang more relatable and evidently showed how he was trying to rope in Wang Zheng and the other people from Ares.
Wang Zheng laughed. "Haha, I have heard of this. Please help me ask Lie Xin, how I offended her."
"Does refusing to give up Zhang Runan count?"
"Nope, it doesn't."
"Haha, Zhang Runan, after Wang Zheng dies, I hope you will consider coming to Mars. Mars will never let you down." Lie Guang laughed loudly.
Zhang Runan clearly was not interested. Lie Guang found the charm of such women worthless.
Lie Guang laughed. He was only here to offer a greeting. After nodding, he immediately left.
In the main hall, people did not see the dramatic scene they expected. Some were disappointed. However, upon some reflection, Mars acquiring Zhang Runan was a given. It was only to be expected. However, precisely so, if Wang Zheng refused to let Zhang Runan go, this might have offended Lie Xin.
The team from the Moon appeared. The Eight Stars of the Moon surrounded and defended Achilles. This was an imposing presence.
Lie Xin stole some glances at the Eight Stars of the Moon before directing her attention onto Achilles. Their eyes met briefly. On this vacation, no one had time to waste.
"Atos is back?"
"Just like Lie Guang, the revival of the Moon's name rests on his shoulders."
The Mars group was particularly concerned about the Eight Stars as they were their biggest competitors.
Elimination was cruel. However, sometimes the strong fell because of accidents. The three generals all possessed a precious revival card that could be used to keep a particular individual that had been eliminated to continue their training. This allowed the three generals to put their reputations on the line in exchange for an opportunity. Clearly, the Moon had used their opportunity on Atos. It was used to maintain the integrity of the team from the Moon. The strength of the eight was greater than the sum of their parts.
Based on the analysis of others, wanting to squeeze into the namelist of the IG main contest required a competent leader. Achilles was very strong, but he already had a scarily strong team of eight stars…
Apart from Achilles, there were four other names left that were equally hard to decide on. People knew that the Sun God had extremely high expectations. Even if you volunteered yourself, you might not be accepted by them.
At this time, Raston brought his team from the Caragal Republic. They approached the Mars group. Their attitude was clear; he was to ally with Lie Xin. Since they were unable to beat them, they would join them. If Achilles and Lear did not possess corresponding power, they would be forced to join Mars or drop out of the IG main competition.
In the main hall, everyone's attention was drawn to this scene. They all understood but never expected that such a day would come so soon.
Raston laughed as he exchanged a few words with Lie Xin. His attention shifted as he approached Wang Zheng. "I just heard some news about how you offended me. Do you want to buy me a meal to make up for it? Haha, good luck. I will not be kind."
Wang Zheng laughed. "Yes, same to you."
From their previous meeting, Raston already knew that Wang Zheng did not have the intention to join Lie Xin. If he wanted to, he would have expressed it immediately. Given the current situation, without an alliance, being eliminated was just a matter of time.
At exactly 1600, a soldier shouted with a loud and imposing voice, "Meng Ao is here. Rise!"
Everyone in the main hall rose in unison.
Meng Ao, one of the three leaders of the allied forces, was practically as influential as a god on Earth.
After a minute, Meng Ao walked in from the gates.
Meng Ao waved his hands and returned a military greeting. "Alright, everyone, take a seat. The first round of the second phase will be conducted by me. The military has high expectations of you… but there is no need to worry. I am just here to spectate. Everyone looks like they are in high spirits. This is good. I hope that everyone will maintain this morale even when training begins."
After Meng Ao's rousing speech, he pointed at the tough-looking soldier and said, "This is Officer Qiusi. He will be responsible for your general training on Earth. Henceforth, he will be the conducting officer taking charge."
Officer Qiu Si had the face of death. He had the eyes of the killer. Compared to Suyan's smiley face, this man had an entirely different aura.