Chapter 858: Contest and outcome
The sound of heavy machine guns firing in the night was deafening as red-orange tracers spat out of them in a cascade. Meanwhile, the barbarians’ advance guard kept pushing closer and closer towards the Pyro Company.
The soldiers felt their adrenaline pumping nonstop amid the sights and sounds.
“Do these barbarians really think they can break through the defensive line like this?” a Pyro Company soldier murmured. He turned his head towards those heavy machinery covered by celadon tarps as they silently stood guard on the walls.
P5092 watched quietly as the barbarians got closer and closer holding the leather shields in their hands. Next to him, his deputy commander said, “Sir, we can’t wait any longer. If we still can’t penetrate their shields by the time they get within 300 meters of us, our defensive line will be at risk.”
But even in this situation, P5092 said nothing, because the last group at the rear of these several thousand-strong barbarians who stretched across several kilometers had still not entered the zone he wanted them to be in.
He mentally calculated the distance in his mind. It wasn’t until a moment later that P5092 said, “Artillery, open fire.”
When the soldiers suddenly pulled the tarps off on the walls, the rapid-fire artillery cannons underneath were revealed. In P5092’s 3rd Division, the pride of the troops was definitely not their higher than normal physical fitness, but their artillery.
There were two special infantry brigades in the 3rd Division and each infantry brigade was made up of 18 artillery batteries. An individual fighting force consisting of six artillery batteries would then concentrate their artillery fire together to complete a rapid area of fire on a single target.
When necessary, this huge artillery formation could even form into a much larger “artillery company” to attack targets within the same area.
Back at Longtan Canyon, the artillery company had only displayed a small part of their capabilities. And now, it was time for the 3rd Division to shine. It was precisely because of this reason that P5092 dared to hang the barbarian corpses outside his defensive zone. He did not mind if the barbarians came to attack his defensive line at all.
On the contrary, he was hoping the barbarians would get even more enraged and charge in even closer.
Although the artillery were only equipped with 76.2 mm caliber rapid-fire howitzers, they could fire at an amazing speed of 20 rounds per minute. With this rate of fire, their accuracy would definitely be compromised. However, P5092 did not seem bothered at all.
As the barbarians were fast-moving targets, it would be meaningless to emphasize accuracy. Instead of aiming carefully, they might as well just bombard the area with artillery fire.
When the barbarians came within a kilometer of them, the rapid-fire light artillery on the walls roared to life. Compared to these, the heavy machine guns earlier sounded like the barking of a dog. These cannons were the true beasts!
The grand formation of artillery guns had only fired their first round, but it destroyed the charging barbarians’ formation instantly. The leather shields they relied on for cover were utterly worthless against the heavy shelling of the artillery.
The Pyro Company soldiers on the Great Wall almost wanted to start cheering. All of them were enraged when they heard about the massacre at Stronghold 176. Moreover, someone even mentioned the scouts had seen the barbarians piling up the corpses of the stronghold residents into small hills outside the city to announce the strength of their expeditionary army.
Someone once read about sporadic records of a war that happened before The Cataclysm in a book, and it was mentioned that a Central Plains civilization had also experienced a massacre before during a war. The death toll in that war numbered as many as hundreds of thousands, with most of the victims being innocent civilians.
That battle was termed “National Humiliation Day” and everyone had to commemorate it.
In the present day, the massacre of Stronghold 176 had sent ripples throughout the Central Plains. Everyone was now fully aware that this war was one of national survival, and that it would not end until either side had perished.
Ever since the massacre at Stronghold 176, there was no possibility of peace talks in this war.
When the artillery began bombarding the area with fire, the barbarians finally started retreating. When faced with the powerful firearms of the Central Plains, they had no choice but to retreat.
However, P5092 was way too composed. He had waited until the barbarians were within a kilometer of them before ordering his artillery to open fire. So even though the barbarians were retreating now, many of them would not survive the bombardment.
Of the advance guard that were made up of several thousand barbarians, it would be considered fortunate if a few hundred of them could walk out of this place alive.
The deputy commander asked, “Sir, should we pursue them?”
“Yes.” P5092 said coldly, “Carry out the Plan B I drafted. The rest of you, hang the corpses of these barbarians after dawn and make more of them remember this place.”
With that, the main forces of the Pyro Company’s 3rd Division started launching their attack. The artillery on standby atop the walls were excited by the sight of the army pressing on.
They drove their off-road vehicles mounted with heavy machine guns northwards to complete the final harvest on the battlefield.
But P5092 still did not show any joy of victory on his face. He ordered someone to bring over a pair of binoculars as he quietly looked into the distance.
There was a forest more than ten kilometers north of the Great Wall. Until now, the Pyro Company troops had been trying to determine the strength of the expeditionary army hidden in there. However, they lost contact with all of the scouts that went inside for reconnaissance.
No one knew what was hidden in there. Was it only the advance guard? No, P5092 was sure there were more of them.
The main forces of the 3rd Division were getting closer and closer to the forest. Meanwhile, the barbarians who survived the bombardment ran towards the forest as fast as they could.
Gradually, the formation of the 3rd Division’s main forces began to break up due to the rough terrain. Some of the companies had charged too far ahead while others had fallen behind.
When the troops at the front were about to get within two kilometers of the forest, gunfire also lit up in the forest to everyone’s surprise.
The Pyro Company troops farthest ahead were immediately gunned down by heavy machine guns, and the sound of mortars could even be heard in the forest.
But a moment later, the barbarians hiding in the forest realized that other than the few hundred Pyro Company soldiers farthest ahead who were killed, the soldiers had immediately retreated when they were still 4.5 kilometers away from the forest. It was as though they were aware of their range and left in advance!
The barbarians realized the main forces of the 3rd Division had not fallen behind at all. Instead, those at the back had deliberately not kept up with the leading forces. It was just that the main forces had pursued them with such aggressiveness that the barbarians could not figure out if they had done it on purpose.
Furthermore, no one noticed that the flares in the sky had stopped at some point. This seemed to also be a detail that was carefully planned for the feint attack. Without the illumination of the flares, it would be even more difficult for the barbarians to discern the disposition of the Pyro Company’s main forces.
In this brief contest, a lot of people had not expected that the barbarians could also use firearms and explosives. Before this, everyone thought they only knew how to attack with axes!
But P5092 had used the lives of several hundred people to let the other Pyro Company commanders know the barbarians were in fact more cunning than they had thought.
But regardless, P5092 emerged victorious again in this brief contest.
Next to him, his deputy commander asked, “Sir, how did you know the barbarians could use firearms and explosives?”
Plan B was only a feint. Right from the beginning, P5092 was not intending to wipe out all of the remaining barbarians. He only wanted to use a forlorn hope to test the waters and find out the actual situation.
Although some people had died in this battle, it was absolutely worthwhile for the commander to be able to use the lives of several hundred people to obtain such important intelligence in a huge war like this.
Just as Ren Xiaosu had concluded, even though the Pyro Company was fighting against the enemies from the North, it would not affect their ruthless and cold nature.
If this victory required P5092 to sacrifice himself, he would probably do it without any hesitation.
They were not only ruthless to others but also on themselves. All they wanted was the final outcome. The process did not matter to them at all.
“Although they lost their manufacturing know-how for firearms and explosives, everyone knows how powerful such weapons are.” P5092 said slowly, “After the fall of Stronghold 176, a lot of military weapons were left behind, so there was no reason for the barbarians not to use them. But before getting a confirmation, I couldn’t guarantee it. Go and look for the intelligence agency. I want to know before dawn what kind of other heavy weapons Stronghold 176 had.”
After that, P5092 turned around and descended the Great Wall. As it would be a prolonged war, there was no need for him to tire himself out on the Great Wall.