Lie Guang smiled and explained, "You're just inexperienced. Look at the Skylink receipt. Your ticket price should be ten dollars too. The other 90 dollars are admin fees. Inter-planetary transactions of small amounts are very troublesome for banks. You know it's... mainly also because Earth's and Mars' transport signals are not completely merged yet. It's not that expensive, really. Your card has been registered on Mars. They won't charge the admin fees the next time you swipe it. Oh, right, if you use it 100 times on Mars, they'll even give you a full refund of the registration fees."
Zhang Shan stared hard. 100 times? They might as well not have added that as a benefit.
"Wang Zheng, seems like you and I are both out of luck." The only thing that made Zhang Shan feel better was that Wang Zheng had swiped the transport signal before him. He didn't feel so bad since he had company.
Wang Zheng smiled and said, "I've been to Mars before. You can actually register for free at the service station..."
Register for free?
Zhang Shan stared so hard, his eyes looked like they were going to pop. "Why didn't you say so earlier!?"
"It's written on the Mars travel guide," Zhang Runan said, patting Zhang Shan on the shoulder, laying a blow on him. Zhang Shan shivered and said, "We're not here as tourists; who the heck has time to read that thing?"
"It's also written under the special items to note on the Skylink page where you apply for a Martian visa."
Meng Tian said, swiping her way into the station, giving Zhang Shan the "final blow".
Even though they were given the green light on all aspects since it was a IG training, the visa application had to be done in person. It was a very simple procedure that required just an electronic signature, but you had to enter the host planet's page upon signing. According to visa application procedures, it was mandatory to read all these items to note.
Zhang Shan felt deflated in an instant.
Lie Guang chuckled and consoled him, "I'll treat all of you to a good Martian meal. Just eat your stomach's worth."
"That's not the same... but... what's in a Martian meal?"
Zhang Shan was quite the glutton. He quickly forgot about the unhappiness caused by the 90 dollars and pestered Lie Guang for an answer. Wang Zheng laughed. "The last time I came, I tried a few tasty dishes. I've got to try more this time..."
Hearing Wang Zheng and Lie Guang's introduction, Zhang Shan drooled. Zhang Runan shot a look of despise at him, while Meng Tian quipped in from time to time, evidently also having been to Mars before.
Soon enough, everybody was on board the Intergalactic Train to Mars. Beside them were many other trains that were headed to other space stations or space cities. There were as many as seven space cities that orbited Mars, their population adding up to 10 million.
Similar to the city transport lines, seats on the Intergalactic Train were free for all. You could even stand if you liked. In terms of stability, the Intergalactic Train was better than transport ships.
Wang Zheng found a spot by the window and sat himself down. Zhang Shan continued to pester Lie Guang about Martian food. They also talked about things other than food. Like wrestling... like women...
Seeing that, Meng Tian took the seat beside Wang Zheng. This seat was usually taken by Zhang Shan. Brothers from the same dormitory got to look after each other outside.... these were Zhang Shan's original words.
Wang Zheng smiled. He could smell the light, natural fragrance from Meng Tian. Since IG training started, the two of them hadn't had a chance to relax and sit down together like this.
"Wang Zheng, what do you think about my abilities? What needs to be improved?"
Meng Tian suddenly asked.
Meng Tian had recently made huge improvements, and it was time for her to make a choice. There were many directions her Frost Ability could head towards. It could focus on attack, or could be used as a form of support. Looking at Wang Zheng, Meng Tian found it difficult to choose.
Wang Zheng was stumped. "No need to think for the rest of us. Choose something that suits you."
Meng Tian nodded in silence, appearing to have understood. This worried Wang Zheng instead. He looked at Meng Tian.
Meng Tian turned away. Her snow white cheeks were blushing. "What?"
Wang Zheng shook his head.
Meng Tian batted her eyelids and said, "Don't worry."
"... I'm not worried."
Wang Zheng rubbed his chin and Meng Tian gave a faint smile. Since they had spent so much time training together, not everything had to be said aloud. Just a few words and a look and they understood each other.
Sharing the same type of ability gave them much better chemistry.
The Intergalactic Train slowly drove into the standard signal transport tunnel, gently rocking, and then accelerated. It did not fly in a straight path to Mars, but instead, went around it. From the windows, they could see Mars' beautiful landscape. It was a different beauty from Earth and was a lot less blue, mostly made of land.
During that time, Lie Xin was actively playing host in the cabins. The Lie family was indeed the host on Mars, being the oldest clan to live there and the most powerful family. All legitimate, illegitimate, or shady businesses had to have some sort of dealings with the Lie family to survive.
Lie Xin and Achilles had been forced into a corner. Mars was their final stop, and their final chance.
For Lie Xin, losing on home territory was unacceptable. But of course, she had to be careful of Lear, because Lear would emerge victorious if he won this match. He was way too slimy of a character.
The train completed a full circle and steadily entered Mars's atmosphere, continuing its journey 3,000 meters above the ground.
The train had more than one destination. It had a stop in every city, and there were a total of 16 state-level cities on Mars.
"Dear passengers, welcome to the Martian city of Vulture. This city used to produce a rare metal...."
Every time they made a stop in a city, the train's public announcement systems would play information about the city's local history. The train travelled at an extremely high speed, making a stop every ten minutes, so they weren't bored. They looked out the windows through the journey, admiring Mars, enjoying leisure time like they hadn't done in a long while.
Everybody tried their best to relax and let their hair down. From Earth to the Moon, the IG training was exceptionally tense and fast-paced. They were not made of metal, but as true fighters, they could always find time for themselves to take a breather.
Half an hour later, the train arrived at their destination, Watt City.
Sixth stop for the Intergalactic Train.
They had barely arrived when a group of Martian soldiers came up to welcome them on the platform.
The Martian citizens cooperated well with the soldiers, avoiding the action on this side. Onlookers also stood far away in an orderly fashion. It was not merely the way they were brought up. On Mars, all citizens had to serve in the army, and even if they couldn't make it to become a professional soldier, they had to go through two years of military training. It was just that when they spotted Meng Tian and Milo, many young men started catcalling. Martians were always open to expressing their desires.
But the moment they saw Lie Xin, those who whistled hung their heads low. She was the publicly acknowledged future Martian Queen!
Lie Xin smiled and magnanimously waved at the onlookers.
Thunderous applause and cheers ruptured as the people's saluted their Queen.
"Everyone, here please."
The soldier who received them said, leading them out of the platform and on to a helipad on the other side. A military cargo plane was awaiting its orders.
They boarded the cargo plane and it took off without delay. Boom... the plane's body shook. A typical Martian vehicle. Boorish and with no hoots given to the details, caring only for practicality and quality.
Comfort? This word had never stayed for more than a minute on any Martian's mind.
Everybody was quiet. They were all thinking of the impending harsh and cruel training they would have to go through.
When they arrived at their destination, they did not expect to be received by a military base built on an isle in a wonderfully scenic location.
While alighting from the turbulent cargo plane, everybody felt as though they'd fallen off a cliff and into paradise.
Smiling, Lie Xin walked out and turned to the crowd. "Everybody, welcome to Lake Ithanlis."
Mars' turf. From now on, Lie Xin was going to take the lead.
An army colonel walked up and saluted.
"Everybody, welcome to the military base M1. My name is Duncan. I'm in charge of your training here. I shall cut to the chase. I only have one thing to remind everyone about. Wang Zheng won on Earth. Lear won on the Moon. In the final match on Mars, if either Wang Zheng or Lear win, they will become team leader right away. If either Achilles or Lie Xin wins, we will have an extra match. But at the end of the day, we will have everyone here to vote for the leader."
When Duncan finished his piece, everyone was shocked. Especially Achilles. This arrangement was equivalent to sealing all his paths. Even if Achilles won this round, the Moon people were thoroughly despised. Unless some sort of miracle happened, nobody would even think about voting for him.
Lear, on the other hand, had gained quite a fair bit of popularity and was coming in strong.
Duncan was a passionate fellow. He spoke and laughed heartily but still hinted to everyone that this final round was not going to be easy on them.
Lie Xin had begun calculating. There was no need for her to consider the opinions of the weaker ones at first, but now that they'd come to such a situation, it appeared that she would have to say something and win some hearts. Damned Lear. He had made a move first. The way he treated Edison and friends made him much more likeable.
Lake Ithanlis. The largest lake that was naturally formed after Mars went through its transformation. The deepest end of the lake reached over 4,000 meters, similar to an ocean, except it was all freshwater.
When Mars first became a residential planet, freshwater was a strategic resource, and hence, the military base on Lake Ithanlis was built. It was used to manage and protect the resources at first. In times of war, they had to put up defenses, and prevent the enemy from causing destruction through their freshwater resources, such as leaking radiation, poison, and so on.
Today, Mars' waters made up a full scale hydrological system that spanned across the planet. It was self-sustaining. There were oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, and huge areas of forests. Water was no longer a scarce resource.
Consequently, the military base took on a new purpose and became the nurturing grounds of Mars' Special Forces: Military Base M1.
M stood for Mars. The number "1" represented its place in the Special Forces.
The crowd made its way into the base. The interior design was consistent with the Martian way of life. Boorish, simple, practical, and sturdy.
While it looked dull on the outside, it had everything it needed and was in very good condition.
"Take a good rest today. Training will officially begin tomorrow," said Colonel Duncan, after taking everyone on a simple tour of the base and assigning their bunks. He spoke shortly with Lie Xin and left.
Duncan had just stepped out when Lie Xin clapped her hands together, signaling that she had a few words to say.