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335 chapter 335 : Trekking 2 in 1

 Everyone had noticed that the 2 great seedling squadrons that were allocated to the Grozny City Competition Zone, the Heaven's Fate and Torres Academies, made up the first wave of squadrons to depart from the train. That was followed by the A ranked squadrons, with Reeve's Stowe Luge squadron among their ranks.

It was already late afternoon when it was finally the Tianjing squadron's time to depart. Alighting together with them were the 2 other C ranked squadrons who were allocated to the same carriage as them.

At this moment, senior colonel, the official that had berated Casio yesterday, was waiting for them at the carriage exit.

"Head towards the locations as indicated in your Skylink. There will be people present there to brief and provide you with the items required for the mission. Okay. Set off now!"

The stern faced official didn't waste a single word before the armored train sped of quickly into the distance, leaving the 3 squadrons standing on the vast icy glacier.

The first time everyone did was to open their Skylink. Everyone had assumed that their designated location would be some place that was extremely far away, or even somewhere deep within some restricted area. However, the result clearly wasn't what they had thought it would be. Although the assigned locations for the 3 squadrons were different, all of them were around 40 to 50 kilometres away from their current location by the armored railway. According to the map of the surrounding region, those locations seemed to not encroach upon the restricted areas located in the vicinity.

"Looks like everyone's heading off to different locations." after spending a day together in the same carriage, everyone was more or less familiar with one another. With a smile, one of the squadron's captain spoke out, "Let's split up here. All the best!"

Being unable to feel any of it while sitting within the carriage, was everyone was only able to feel exactly how icy cold the frosty gales were present within this northern reaches after alighting from the train .

.

It was a typical summer's day for this region. However, despite it being in the right smack in the middle of the day, the temperature of the wilderness always remained at a few degrees below zero. The ferocious northern gales blew past everyone, causing crystal like snowflakes to rub across everyone's faces with a sharpness akin to knives.

This area was precisely the one of the fringe regions that everyone had seen on the maps during yesterday's meeting. It's said that this was once a restricted area, having turned into its current state as a stretch of wilderness after being cleansed by the Vasilyevich Family.

Nevertheless, even though the mutated beasts have been cleaned up from this region, there was no change in the degree of radiation present here. It was considerably severe, seemingly reaching levels around that of a C ranked restricted area. If not for teacher Grace's survival training they had underwent in the Chaotic Lake Region, even the problem about how to deal with the considerable radiation would cause a headache for quite a few of them. Nevertheless, the consumption of strength was something that was unavoidable in such circumstances.

Opening up their navigational systems in their Skylinks, everyone quickly located the designated place their Tianjing Squadron needed to head to.

Their designated location was within a depression present in a stretch of snow capped mountains, located few dozen kilometres from the place on the armored railway where they had alighted. Upon reaching the depression, they discovered a small tent propped up in there, with an official already present within it.

"This mission's very simple. Rely on your own judgment and navigate your way to the Grozny City. You only need 6 people to have complete this mission. As for those who don't arrive, they will be considered as being eliminated from the competition, with no reason being suitable for appeal." said the official in a cold tone. At the same time, he pulled out ten pre-packed backpacks. "Hand over all of your survival preparations and food, including your Skylink. You can only use the tactical backpacks we've prepared for you. Other than that, you can keep your own weapons."

He proceeded to take out small disk like items before continuing to speak. "This is a token that represents your squadron. Every participating squadron have tokens specific to their squadron. If you bump into any trouble and want to give up on the competition, you can call for help through these tokens. Naturally, that would mean that you have already given up on the competition. If you want a simpler way to deal with this mission, there's another way for you to complete it. If you're able to obtain 3 other different types of tokens, you can form a small signal transmitter when combined within your own token. When you do so, you'll be automatically be promoted from this elimination round, while the committee will automatically arrange for people to fetch you guys up."

"Additional tokens? Is this to encourage us to snatch tokens from other squadrons?" asked Colby.

The only response from the official was a cold and indifferent glare that treated Colby as though he was an idiot for asking that question. Everyone knew that this CHF was different from the previous ones. From the looks of it, this mission wasn't only a survival test, and even had an hunting component present in it.

The official proceeded to chase Wang Zhong and the rest away from the tent. The federation had invested a large amount of effort to bring in soldiers like this official to run this survival mission. They weren't merely there for the sake of being able to increase the difficulty of the mission, but also to also reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries to the greatest degree. Once a rescue signal is sent out from those tokens given to the squadrons, they would be able to provide assistance within the shortest amount of time.

Wang Zhong and the rest had thought of travelling by the side of the armored railways. However, if they did so, they would definitely be unable to make it to the required location within the given amount of time. This was something that the committee had considered, as they weren't looking for marathon capable soldiers in this elimination round. There would be nothing to say if one's entire squadron was composed of speed type soldiers, though that wasn't the case for Tianjing.

Although there were many shortcuts available for them to take, clearly not everyone would be able to allow for them to arrive at their destination alive.

Opening their backpacks, everyone discovered a rather simply drawn map present within. It's accuracy and detail was completely out of the question when compared to the maps they had on their Skylinks. Nevertheless, this was all they had to rely on for their navigation. Surviving in the wilderness, water, food, and mutated beasts were all factors of difficulty for this mission. However, the greatest factor of danger present during this mission came from the various participating squadrons. Those with an even wee bit of strength would not want to rely on reaching the designated location to finish their mission. To them, defeating other squadrons and claiming their tokens would undoubtedly be the faster and more convenient method.

"I feel that we should choose to hunt for other tokens." said Emily after looking at the distance between their squadron and their current location as shown on the map.

Raised eyebrows were spotted as everyone was surprised by her words. Such words would never come out from the mouth of the little Emily of the past. To the people of Tianjing, they would never even think of considering the possibility of attempting this method. To them, not being hunted would already be a good thing for them.

Contrary to everyone, Wang Zhong nodded his head, before saying, "That can be our alternative plan. Firstly, we have to choose a path to travel. If we bump into any suitable targets, there's no harm in taking action. However, there's no need to specifically hunt for other squadrons."

"I feel that snatching the tokens of other squadrons would be an extremely difficult task to accomplish." added Scarlet as she shook her head. Holding her hand up, the mission token was present right within her palm. "This token isn't constructed with any special materials, making it extremely easy to get broken and destroyed. If the losing side is forced to the point of despair, they might forcefully destroy their tokens, resulting in the entire hunt being a waste of time. This is the greatest disadvantage of going through with this method."

"Indeed, no everyone will remain calm in the face of defeat. What's more, having one's token taken away can be considered a type of disgrace." added Lily in approval of Scarlet's view. Even if they had the strength to defeat other squadrons, this did not mean that their opponents would just hand over their tokens obediently, as a single crush was all that it needs to destroy the tokens.

Although there weren't any restrictions present in this competition, there were basic rules for the entirety of the CHF, which was that no one was allowed to purposefully kill others. However, the threat from this rule appeared exceedingly pale in contrast to the situation beforehand.

Wang Zhong didn't deny that what Scarlet said was right. However, he was able to see from Grai and Emily's expression that they did not agree to her statement. That's because there were many other ways where one could cause one's opponents to be unable to destroy the tokens. The only thing that could be said was that there was a great difference in standard between the members of the Tianjing squadron. However, Wang Zhong also felt that they should not take the initiative to hunt for the tokens of other squadrons.

Scarlet had given a rather detailed explanation about Grozny City during yesterday's meeting. Although the map given was extremely simple, it was enough for her to made the verdict that it would be impossible for them to head to their destestination via the armored railway.

Nonetheless, Scarlet definitely wasn't the only person able to memorize the entire map of the surrounding region. Similarly, there were quite a few people present in this competition zone that would be able to make such a verdict. Thus, the fight to reach the destination had just begun.

...

Although they had chosen to head towards the designated location, the journey was undoubtedly more difficult to traverse than anyone had imagined.

The first difficulty they faced was the distance require to travel. At the beginning, they had assumed that they would absolutely be able to reach their destination within 30 days. This was made in accordance to the most accurate path to travel as indicated on the map. In reality however, there simply was none of the so called "most accurate path to travel" on this icy glacier in the northern region.

The terrain and climate of this region was truly too complicated and unpredictable. A mountain valley might become a dead end in an instant after an avalanche had occured in the mountain above. What was a flat and level ground a day ago might become frozen solid due to a freak storm, or blown away to reveal the icy riverbed present below.

There was also another reason, which was the destruction of a drawbridge that used to connect the sides of a giant river spanning many kilometres in length. This drawbridge had actually been destroyed by people. From the looks of it, it had been forcefully destroyed just a day ago, something that was definitely accomplished by a squadron that had crossed this same exact bridge. This was to prevent those travelling behind them to be unable to pass through this river. Clearly, the Tianjing squadron had underestimated the shamelessness of other squadrons.

Facing against the churning river, Wang Zhong had no choice but to bring everyone to make a detour further up north. Just this alone had cause them to spend almost a day's worth of time.

This were just issues they faced in the geography.

With the entire northern river being locked in snow, the majority of the ground was snow laden to the level of one's knees. There were even some special places where the level of snow would reach up to 2 metres in height. With each foot sinking into the snow as the other presses forward, their walking speed would clearly unable to compare to the running speeds they were able maintain on flat, level terrain. Even travelling on the icy glacier was difficult due to its slick and slippery surface. For the most part, they were travelling through the wilderness, where the terrain gets even more extreme and traversing becomes more difficult. This was something that was happening on a global scale, something that man had no power to change.

One can just forget about travelling normally through this region. Everyone in the Tianjing squadron had to give their all in a risk taking attitude to hurry along the way to their destination.

HU...

As the icy cold northern winds blew across, the faint light from a fire lit up the cave, while a bloody smell filled the air.

Under the light from the fire, Wang Zhong was currently using a small knife to butcher a giant icy plains armored beast. This mutated beast appeared similar to a pangolin, though it was much, much bigger in size than the latter, being approximately 4 to 500 pounds in weight. The cave Wang Zhong and the rest were in was precisely its den.

Around the fire, the rest of the Tianjing squadron were using the best of this rest time to catch some shut eye. The female members of the squadron were nestled at the walls of the cave, covered in a warm, yet not thick layer of army blankets. Grai and Colby were sleeping soundly by the side of the fire. Barran slept by their side in a more exaggerated fashion, forming a "" word as his thunderous snores echoed in the cave.

If this was a normal day, the girls sleeping by his side would absolutely be unable to sleep in the presence of Barran's thunderous snores. However, they had either gotten used to it, or perhaps were too tired to bother about it, being unable to open their eyes the moment they laid against the walls. Fortunately, Ma Dong had the foresight to not be pretentious to follow along, choosing to head straight to Grozny City. Compared to him, the shy female leader of the other squadron assigned to the same carriage as them wasn't so fortunate. Despite not participating in combat, she was shoved off the train. It's estimated that she would definitely become the burden of her squadron during their journey.

This was already the 6th day since entering the icy plains. They had just managed to enter the towering agate mountainous range yesterday. Over this period of 6 days, everyone had already endured many cycles of bodily fatigue, sinking into a state of complete silence from their initial feelings of excitement. Being the captain, Wang Zhong had continued to observe the bodily status of every member of his squadron. Him, Emily and Grai were still completely fine, while this 6 days had been slightly taxing by endurable for Colby, Lily and Barran. As for Scarlet, Milami and Hymin, they were having some trouble with this arduous journey. By itself, females would be in a slight physical disadvantage for such a journey. What's more, such a dangerous type of long trekking would be the greatest test for them. However, one could also feel the completely different kind of tempering such a journey had to them. If they were truly able to endure and trek all the way to Grozny City, this journey would absolutely be a form of baptism for their minds and bodies.

After not having much of a good rest for the past few days, Wang Zhong felt that everyone should take a break here. If not, their entire squadron might truly collapse in fatigue. He had prepared for him and Grai to be on sentry duty while the rest took a much needed break. Due the situation about the broken bridge, there might not be any pleasant surprises waiting for them in the road ahead. If Wang Zhong was placed in the position of the hunters, he would absolutely choose to strike when the other squadrons are resting after their exhausting journey, which should be around this period of time.

Today was a better day for the Tianjing squadron. They had taken over this cave for the purpose of bade out the gales and snow while allowing everyone to take a break and catch some shut eye. However, never did they imagine that this mountain cave was also the den of a Icy Plain Armoured Beast. While they were clearing out this cave, Barran had almost gotten his butt pierced by the sharp spines of that fellow.

That's a Rank 3 mutated beast! What a free feast for them! Taking the duties of roasting the meat and sentry work, Wang Zhong made sure that the rest could make the most of this time to rest and recover.

With their cloaks covering the entrance of the cave to shield the insides from the icy cold winds and snow otherside, cracking sounds rang out from the firepit as it raised the temperature of the cave by quite a bit. As the smell of roasted meat waft across the cave, Barran started to salivate within his dream.

"You should take a break too, senior." Grai had woke up at some unknown timing and had quietly walked over. "There's still 2 more hours to daybreak."

"Don't worry about it." replied Wang Zhong with a smile. The stronger one's spiritual soul was, the more resilient one was towards matters like exhaustion and tiredness. While everyone in the squadron wasn't able to cope with the exhaustion from the journey, he had treated it completely as a tempering and training for himself.

Nodding his head, Grai took a seat by the firepit. The stronger one was, the faster and quicker one's recovery speed was. From the looks of it, Grai's mind and spirit has already fully recovered. With him around, Wang Zhong could feel much more relaxed. Compared to him, Emily was still resting. Although her will and spirit were strong and resilient, this did not mean that her body doesn't need a break.

All of a sudden, a beeping sound rang out from the token within Wang Zhong's breast pocket, before a mechanical sounding voice rang out, "Nono Peace Academy, loss of contact, eliminated."

The token would broadcast the information of every eliminated squadron. The previous message was already the 6th one that Wang Zhong had heard. However, the previous 5 were all "XX academy, forfeit, eliminated.". This was extremely understandable, as those squadrons had definitely activated the distress beacons within their tokens. There weren't many mutated beasts present within this region, and if they were, all of them were only low ranking ones that would not be able to threaten the lives of people. Beasts ike the Icy Plain Armored Beast were even easier to deal with. However, if was to bump into the occasional mutated beastial horde, the use of scouts would really come into use. One day ago, the Tianjing squadron had bumped into a wolf pack with the majority being composed of by Rank 4 Icy Plain Wolves. Due to them having Emily to scout the way, they were fortunately about to wrap around this pack of mutated wolves. In such a survival type mission, the use of scouts was extremely important. If the Emily of the past wasn't much of a reliable person, her performance during the past few days had caused everyone to have a totally new level of respect and admiration for her. Indeed, the inheritance of the Assassin Family was extraordinary to be able to allow Emily to progress her strength by leaps and bounds within a mere few months. No wonder why the federation was under the rule of those great families.