Chapter 40: Passing the Test
He Yan’s guess was correct. Three days later, during the long run with sandbags on their backs, Instructor Liang shouted ahead, “Starting from tomorrow, we’ll run five laps around the camp. For the rest of the time, we’ll focus on weapon drills! So today, give me your best in running! If you don’t run well, you won’t get lunch!”
Hearing this, everyone became spirited. Compared to running under the scorching sun with sandbags, weapon drills seemed much easier and more like what new recruits should be doing. It also meant that they were leaving this h*llish training and entering a new stage, becoming more like proper soldiers of Da Wei.
He Yan understood Instructor Liang’s hidden message. Today would be the final “test.” If anyone performed poorly, clearly showing their lack of physical stamina, they would lose the chance to participate in the weapon drills.
As she bent down to pick up her sandbag, someone suddenly bumped into her from behind. She straightened up and saw that it was Wang Ba, the scar-faced guy who had stolen her meat bun a few days ago. Wang Ba looked at her and sneered, “Kid, after today, you’ll become a support soldier. Your good days are over.”
He Yan shrugged, “I don’t get it.”
“Your two brothers won’t be following you forever. A support soldier…” He lowered his voice, his eyes showing a trace of cruelty, “I can kill you, and no one will care!”
“Well then, come and try.” With a swing of her sandbag, He Yan smiled at him, “By the way, I won’t become a support soldier, absolutely not.” With that, she turned and joined the long run.
Xiao Mai followed nervously, asking, “Brother Ah He, did he bother you just now?”
“How could he?” He Yan smiled, “We just had a little chat.”
“I see.” Xiao Mai smiled too, “Brother Ah He, you’re amazing! You’re not even panting now and can run so fast!”
Xiao Mai and Shitou grew up in the mountains, hunting daily and spending entire days out in the wilderness, which naturally built their stamina and speed. On the other hand, He Yan, initially feeble, has been visibly improving day by day. This transformation raises suspicions among the others, as if she had secretly consumed some kind of miraculous elixir.
“Is that so?” He Yan nodded earnestly. “I do seem to have quite the potential.”
Meanwhile, on the other side, the instructors gathered together along the forest path, observing the situation.
For more than half a month, the daily long runs not only trained the recruits’ physical strength but also served as a way to assess their aptitude. Every day, they recorded the results in a register. Today was the last time they would record the long run. From now on, the long run would no longer be used to assess the recruits’ aptitude but would become a regular training exercise. If a recruit had the ability to participate in weapon drills, it meant they had the qualifications to become a soldier of Da Wei and wouldn’t die before the war began due to physical reasons.
The camp also had different levels of strength, and the difference was quite apparent. Those with good aptitude stood out from the beginning, while those with poor aptitude were noticeable from the start too. This was an unfair thing, as aptitude was something innate and couldn’t be changed.
But there was an exception in this case.
“Old Liang,” someone patted Instructor Liang’s shoulder, “that kid in your squad, He Yan, is quite a talent.”
He Yan was the unexpected one.
Her aptitude was initially rated poorly by the instructors. Even if she started as a support soldier, everyone was afraid she’d get overheated and become sick. However, day by day, she became lighter on her feet. Now, she can easily keep up with the team and even hold a position near the front.
It’s a miracle.
“Rope can saw wood, and water can wear away stone.” Instructor Liang was quite pleased. “I’ve said it before, I Liang Ping doesn’t have bad judgment. This kid’s determination is rare; she won’t perform poorly at anything.”
“Don’t make grand statements,” Du Mao, another instructor who poured cold water on him, chimed in. He opened his mouth skeptically, “You shouldn’t overlook the fact that aptitude is what it is. The reason he can keep up with the team, what’s it based on? It’s based on effort!”
That was indeed the case. Everyone looked at the young person sprinting alongside the team. He was of the right age, had an optimistic disposition, and was quite likable in appearance. He ran in an orderly fashion and rarely engaged in conversation with others. His running was earnest and, in short, he appeared to be taking this task very seriously.
“His ability to achieve this takes tremendous effort, something others might be able to accomplish with less,” Du Mao stated. “Now, it’s just running with sandbags on the back. Future weapon drills and tactical exercises will only become more complex, and he’ll need to invest more effort than others. Like this, he’ll never excel; he can only be an ordinary soldier.”
“I advise you to focus more on the recruits with better aptitude in your squad and not pay excessive attention to that kid,” Du Mao shook his head. “It’s not very meaningful.”
“I can’t argue with you; I don’t feel like talking to you either,” Liang Ping responded unhappily after Du Mao’s words. He walked away with his spear.
However, as he walked, he couldn’t help but mumble to himself. Among them, the instructors, many have led soldiers. Those who survive or make great contributions on the battlefield often start out with remarkable performances, showing exceptional qualities.
That young person was just putting in effort… but does effort really make a difference?
He Yan finished today’s run in one go, received her meal, ate it, and waited until the afternoon. Suddenly, Instructor Liang came over and selected about ten soldiers to follow him.
“Hey, those seem to be the ones going to be support soldiers,” Xiao Mai said, “But why do they need so many people for support soldiers?”
He Yan smiled and shook her head, “It’s just a term; not all of them will be cooking. Some will do other tasks. In short, they won’t be directly on the frontline fighting.”
“That’s good,” Hong Shan stretched lazily, “Isn’t it nice not to risk our lives and stay alive?”
“But Brother Ah He seems happy this time,” Xiao Mai said, teasingly, “You won’t have to be a support soldier!”
It was well-known that He Yan didn’t want to be a support soldier. She didn’t refute and just smiled, “Congratulations and celebrations are in order, I guess.”
“Will you get the opportunity to show your skills soon?” Hong Shan glanced at her, teasingly, “In the upcoming weapon drills, you’ll be able to show off, right?”
“Mm, not exactly,” He Yan thought for a moment before answering.
She could handle knives, arrows, and horsemanship. The long spear formation was not difficult for her, and after running for so long, climbing hills and charging were not a problem. The only challenge might be the crossbow.
The crossbow required great hand strength, and it would be difficult for someone without a strong physique to pull it back. With her current physical condition, it might be a bit of a struggle.
However, she believed that Xiao Jue, as a skilled trainer, probably wouldn’t start with the crossbow, right? She thought.
She thought wrong.
Uncle: Pleasant surprise or not? Unexpected or not? Exciting or not?