Zhuang Tian and the three medium team leaders were a little surprised when they saw Huo Yuhao leading First Bunk's recruits in neat rows to get their meals. These recruits hadn't seemed very disciplined to them, and even though there were some who behaved well, like Huo Yuhao, the batch was generally not too impressive.
Thus, these commanders truly didn't expect Huo Yuhao to be able to restrain these recruits so quickly.
Huo Yuhao brought his comrades and paused in front of the wok that contained the meat soup. He raised his voice and said, "All thirty recruits from First Bunk are here to eat. Greetings, large team leader."
Zhuang Tian's expression was a lot warmer than before. He smiled and said, "Well done. Come, eat."
Huo Yuhao wasn't the first to get his meal. He took the lunch plate that Zhuang Tian passed him and turned around and passed it to the recruit behind him. He repeated this action while he continued reminding First Bunk's recruits to keep in line.
The recruits quickly got their meals in an orderly fashion before Huo Yuhao brought them to a shady place and let everyone sit down to eat. After everything had been settled, he returned to Zhuang Tian and got himself a lunch plate.
"Your name is Tang Dong, right?" Zhuang Tian asked as he served him a bowl of meat soup.
Huo Yuhao nodded and said, "Yes, sir."
Zhuang Tian smiled faintly and said, "You've done well. Keep at it."
"Yes, sir." Huo Yuhao carried his food and jogged back to his bunk's recruits, and they ate together.
Zhuang Tian smiled faintly as he watched Huo Yuhao move. He nodded and said, "Not bad… he has potential. Which one of you is in charge of his bunk?"
The middle-aged man that had arm-wrestled Huo Yuhao before said, "Boss, I am in charge. I am also the one who chose this fellow. He's quite strong, at least not any weaker than I am. I didn't expect him to be able to do this. He's managed to keep his bunk in such order when they've only just entered the army camp. He has some tricks up his sleeve!"
Zhuang Tian nodded and said, "Yes, he's very impressive. However, we should test him a little more. Send someone to investigate his identity, to ensure that there's nothing wrong with him."
Huo Yuhao smiled faintly as he enjoyed his meal. He had long ago considered that they would check his identity, so he spent a little more money when forging his documents so that he could eliminate all possible loopholes. Huo Yuhao could practically remain undiscovered even if he was investigated on a national level. He had spent a hundred gold soul coins to fabricate his identity, and had confirmed that everything was alright again and again.
Lunchtime was over, and Huo Yuhao led First Bunk's recruits back to their bunk as a group to rest. Two hours for eating and resting wasn't considered long, and their afternoon assembly time quickly arrived.
Out of the three hundred recruits, not a single one was late. Evidently, the assigning of fighting soldiers and auxiliary soldiers in the morning left a dark shadow on their hearts. First Bunk's recruits, with Huo Yuhao leading them, were the first to arrive on the military drill ground. Many recruits were discreetly complaining, and they resented Huo Yuhao for that, but their resentment immediately vanished when they arrived at the military drill ground… because the large team leader, Zhuang Tian, and the other three medium team leaders were already there, standing straight on the drill ground. Zhuang Tian smiled when he saw them arrive, and he even nodded in their direction.
Encouragement from superiors was clearly quite compelling for these recruits. Their resentment and complaints at being forced to come early disappeared, and everyone stood up straight. Everyone knew the benefits of showing themselves in front of their superiors.
Huo Yuhao jogged up before Zhuang Tian as he raised his voice and said, "Reporting to you, sir! The recruits from the First Bunk of Team Two, of the Third Battalion, of the Seventh Division, of the Sixth Reserve Legion are all present. Please advise!"
Zhuang Tian nodded and said, "Very well. Rejoin your lines and place your feet at shoulder-width. This is standing at ease. When I say 'attention', you have to close your legs and stand up straight."
"Yes, sir." Huo Yuhao acknowledged once and swiftly ran back to his position. His thirty recruits were all standing at ease.
After almost ten minutes, the recruits from the other bunks arrived, one after another. However, they were clearly not sorted by bunks, and everyone was scattered. But at least nobody was late.
"Squad, attention!" one of the mid-team leaders shouted.
Zhuang Tian surveyed the recruits, who were standing up as straight as they could. He raised his voice and said, "Comrades, we will be brothers-in-arms from now on. Let me introduce these three officers standing beside me."
He pointed towards the medium team leader who had tested Huo Yuhao's strength as he spoke and said, "This is Shi Shuo, Medium Team One's leader."
He pointed to the other two and said, "Yun Tian, Medium Team Two's leader. Long Shun, Medium Team Three's leader.
"Our large team should have a hundred and fifty fighting soldiers, but there are three hundred of you here. Do you know why this is so? This means that after the next three months of basic military training, I have the authority to reduce one hundred and fifty of you to either auxiliary soldiers or send you home. However, I hope that more people can stay behind, and perhaps even the entire lot of you can stay behind, so that we can add one more large team. What happens will all depend on your results after training.
"A soldier's sacred duty is to follow orders. The first lesson I want to teach you today is how to follow orders. Shi Shuo, Yun Tian, Long Shun."
"Sir!" The three medium team leaders stood up straight as they shouted at the same time.
Zhuang Tian said solemnly, "Everyone will stand at attention from now on. Recruits are allowed to faint, but they cannot slack off, and they cannot relax. We will continue until sunset. Whip those who slack off or relax."
Zhuang Tian turned to leave after giving his instructions. The three medium team leaders smiled sardonically before they drew horsewhips from their waists and walked towards the recruits.
"I'm sure everyone heard the large team leader's words. Stand up straight, everyone. Otherwise, the whip will show no mercy."
Aren't we just standing around? Most recruits didn't think too much about it. Everyone stood up as straight as they could. Nobody wanted to be whipped!
The three medium team leaders' eyes were tinged with pity towards those recruits whose backs were especially straight. Veterans all knew that they would rather climb mountains and cross rivers than stand at attention! Standing at attention tested one's willpower the most, but this was the best training for recruits.
Walking underneath the sun wasn't much, but after standing for a long time…
An hour passed.
These recruits were all youngsters. They were at least eighteen years old, and none were older than twenty-five. Those who dared to enlist had decent physiques, but after one hour of standing, some recruits were starting to sway and waver.
Their bodies couldn't move, and that meant their blood circulation wouldn't be smooth. In addition to the fact that they were standing up so straight, their muscles began to hurt after a while, and their breathing became a little forced and hindered. Many of their uniforms were soaked with sweat.
The three medium team leaders didn't bother much with those soldiers who were swaying and wavering. However, they immediately whipped anyone that wanted to slack off and laze around. They didn't whip them hard, but every lash still gave those recruits a burning reminder.
Huo Yuhao was just standing there. His eyes were calm, and he wasn't standing up that straight, but he didn't relax one bit. He was standing steadily and stably as if he were a statue, while his heart and mind were already immersed in meditation.
With his current cultivation, he didn't have to sit down and cross his legs to enter meditation. He could enter that special realm in any state.
Huo Yuhao's mood was lifted a little after he paid his respects to his mother, and he gradually got into character as Tang Dong after coming to this place. Standing at attention was painful and torturous to the other recruits, but this was almost considered the best kind of rest for him.
Huo Yuhao had been hustling too much, and his feelings had been going through roller coasters. He finally had some time to calm himself down. He was satisfied with this, and he even felt as if this was a little luxurious. However, he liked this feeling.
Huo Yuhao couldn't forget that when he had saved the White Tiger Duke, his bodyguards had resolutely decided to jump down the cliff to their deaths so that they wouldn't hold him back. That scene had shaken him, and also made him passionate about the military.
A soldier's sacred duty is to follow orders, and a soldier's mission is to protect his nation. I have grown up, and I have joined the army to serve my nation. Even though he was just a recruit, Huo Yuhao was full of pride at what he was doing.
Two hours went by.
"Kerplunk, kerplunk…" Two recruits finally couldn't take the torture of standing at attention anymore, and they fell to the ground. The temperature wasn't that high at the moment, or they would have gone down a lot quicker.
Army medics instantly appeared and carried away those who had fainted.
More and more soldiers crumpled to the ground over the next hour. Of course, there were those who pretended to faint, but the army medics weren't fooled at all. They gave each person who pretended to faint ten lashes, and nobody else dared to pretend afterwards.
The three medium team leaders stood together, and whispered to each other from time to time.
"This batch of recruits is of average quality, but there aren't many troublemakers after all. I remember when we were training a new batch of soldiers the last time. Everyone rioted collectively after standing at attention for too long. That was exciting!" Shi Shuo muttered softly to his companions.
Yun Tian chuckled and agreed, "Rioting, that was great! How comfortable is it to beat people up justly and rightfully?"
"You're so violent," Long Shun snapped.
Three hours went by, and there were only a hundred soldiers left standing. Furthermore, most of them were shaking and swaying, and looked like they could fall to the ground at any moment.
The three medium team leaders' expressions grew serious and solemn. They paced continuously beside the remaining recruits, and observed their expressions. Those recruits whose faces were too pale were immediately escorted away by army medics to rest.
In terms of overall endurance, Huo Yuhao's bunk wasn't that much better than the other bunks. At this point, there were only half a dozen people from his bunk left.
Huo Yuhao's spiritual power was so powerful that his perception was exceptionally strong even if he didn't deliberately direct his senses. Wang Xiaodian was amongst those who remained, and several other youths that he had observed before also remained. One youth who wore a grave and stern look on his face even emanated soul power undulations!. Even though his soul power undulations weren't that strong, a soul master enlisting in the army and starting as a normal fighting soldier was quite interesting...