“You must be crazy!”

Chu Yan's voice rang out like thunder, anger and astonishment clear in it.

The records officer in the distance was inclined to hide under a seat, but naturally couldn't, and could only hold onto the electronic board tightly, trembling.

Fei Mei stood up and glanced at the records officer, 

“You can leave for now.
I'll call you if needed.”

God knows how grateful Cheng Xin was.
Fei Mei's words were nothing short of life-saving.
If this elegant lady with black hair allowed, he even wanted to kiss the ground beneath her feet.

After the records officer left, Chu Yan gasped for breath.
If it weren't for the fact that the electronic desk was too large, the old commander would have grabbed the collar of the person opposite him.

“How could you do such a treacherous thing? Have you forgotten who fearlessly rushed into the Inverse Universe when there were no human traces and gradually turned the tide for the fortress?”

Wed calmly responded, 

“I haven't forgotten, of course, it was the Ascenders.
But Commander Chu, let me remind you of something.
The world is constantly moving forward, and you must admit that we now have the ability to develop war weapons that can replace Ascenders.
Moreover, they have a higher cost-effectiveness.”

“Forgive my bluntness, but the role of Ascenders is still significant, but that only applies to mid- to high-level Ascenders.
Those low-level Ascenders are not much stronger than our soldiers.
However, the wealth they can control far exceeds that of ordinary people.”

“I believe you probably haven't forgotten that three months ago, there was a protest in the fortress.
People were protesting that Ascenders were consuming too many resources, which they considered unfair.”

Chu Yan shouted, 

“Nonsense! Without us, do you think those ordinary people could deal with high-level dark creatures? Let alone the Black King, even the level 3 dark creatures, the new armament you admire wouldn't stand a chance!”

Wed calmly said, 

“That's why I mentioned a slight reduction, not a complete cut.
For example, we can consider reducing half of the income for low-level Ascenders.
As for mid- to high-level ones, they can remain as they are.”

Chu Yan decisively said, 

“No! If that's the case, they will quit their jobs.
They will flow to other fortress cities or simply join the prospectors, and we will lose a portion of the Ascenders for no reason.”

“This will greatly weaken the deterrence of Sky Tower.
Don't forget, Black Star Fortress is only five hundred kilometers away from us.
They have been eyeing our Clough Gate for more than just a few days!”

The Minister of Strategy smiled confidently, “I have indeed considered this.
If our deterrence is insufficient, we can completely recruit two or three high-ranking individuals through employment.
The cost of their hiring should be less than half of the reduced expenses.
Commander Chu, I understand your sentiment.
But you also need to know that our investment in low-ranking individuals is already too much.”

Chu Yan slammed the table forcefully, “No matter what you say, I still disagree with this matter.”

Wed snorted, “Chu Yan, quit the righteous act.
Seventeen years ago, you were still…”

“Minister Wed!” Cao Gang, who had remained silent, suddenly spoke in a low voice.
“I advise you to choose your words carefully!”

Wed's face slightly changed, and he nodded, saying, “I did lose control, but I still think it's unnecessary to continue investing significant resources in low-ranking individuals.”

Chu Yan stood up and said, “No matter what, even if it has to be brought up to the Lord of the City, I am firmly against it!”

With that, he left in a huff.

Wed looked at the young Storm Commander, Fei Mei, and asked, “Fei Mei, what's your opinion?”

Fei Mei gently closed her eyes, and her long, curled eyelashes trembled.
“I reserve my opinion.”

Cao Gang directly stated, “Measuring the value of Ascenders based on a single battle is not fair.
Besides, the opponents in the battle were the lowest-tier prowlers among the dark creatures, which doesn't prove anything.”

“Moreover, the Inverse Universe is not static.
Thousands of years ago, when the Clough Gate was discovered, people could enter the Inverse Universe for exploration without protective suits.
But now, without protective suits, ordinary people can hardly move an inch inside.”

“Every Inverse Universe is incredibly vast, and what we have explored is only a small part of it.
We don't know what lies deep within the Inverse Universe.
But I do know that Ascenders' power is indispensable to combat the dark creatures, especially the high-ranking ones.”

“Therefore, I don't think it's appropriate to cut the budget.
At least at this stage, it's clearly irrational.”

Cao Gang stood up, his voice calm, “I think we should end today's meeting here.
I apologize, but I have matters to attend to.
Please excuse me.”

Fei Mei joined, “I need to visit the armament factory and check the progress of the fifth-generation production.
Minister Wed, please excuse me.”

The two left together.

Wed didn't feel particularly disheartened or angry; instead, he smiled faintly, 

“Let's see how it goes, even if all of you are against it but if the public insists, I believe the Lord of the City will seriously consider it.
As for the public, they are the easiest to manipulate.
As long as there are more incidents like the recent one, they will organize several more protest marches!”

With that in mind, the old man took out a pocket watch.
Opening it, there was a photo inside the cover.

It housed memory of a young man with facial features similar to Wed's.


The old man closed the watch, his footsteps more resolute than when he entered, and left the command hall.

“The Lighthouse Outpost Base has arrived.
Passengers getting off, please line up outside the yellow line at the door.”

The announcement suddenly sounded in the train carriage, waking up the dozing Tianyang.

After being impressed by the fifth-generation armament yesterday, the Ascenders of Raven Squad were somewhat dissatisfied, while Han Shu remained unfazed.
He even asked Chen Liu to let his fifth-generation armament perform a few more times if they encountered a similar situation.

They regrouped and boarded the train, heading straight for the Lighthouse Base.
This time, fortunately, nothing out of the way happened, and they arrived at the base smoothly.

After getting off the train, on the platform, Han Shu shouted loudly, 

“Disperse now and gather near the main gate in three hours.
If anyone dares to be late, watch out, I'll kick their ass.

With that command, everyone scattered.
Han Shu and Old Xu discussed which drink to have at the bar, Cangdu and Ji Yu went their separate ways, but the soldiers were very responsible.
They headed to the warehouse to take inventory of the logistical resources required for the operation.

Tianyang checked his assault rifle and found that the gas magazine was only half full, so he decided to pay a visit to the base's armory and get two spare magazines.

“Oh, if isn't this Tianyang.”

The quartermaster in the armory was a greasy middle-aged man whom Tianyang had dealt with when he was in the reconnaissance team.
As a new recruit, Qin Wu assigned him many errands to run.

He had visited the armory several times before and had a good rapport with the quartermaster, who was also from a lower-class background.

So as soon as the quartermaster saw him, he recognized Tianyang and said, “Hey, you've already transferred.
Look at that uniform, so impressive.
Oh, you're a Second Lieutenant? How about that, did you awaken, young man?”

Tianyang shyly smiled, “I got lucky.
I found the Pillar of Star on a mission, so…”

“Well, you sure hit the jackpot!” The quartermaster looked brighter than Tianyang himself.

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