TOTLS Chapter 91: Arc 6.6

Arc 6: Interstellar Art Soldiers Chapter 6


After the meal, the squad leader took them to the conference room for a meeting.

“In the ten days before we reach the Border Constellations, each group will prepare a second-class performance and a third-class performance. Tomorrow, you have the whole day to decide what kind of performances you want to showcase. Submit the details of your performance to me by the evening so that I can arrange the schedule for you. Understood?”

“Understood.”

“As per the instructions from the higher-ups, during these ten days on the spacecraft, there must also be a first-class grand performance. We have already gathered the opinions of the soldiers, and the majority of them would like to see a musical. After discussing with the leaders, we have decided on the musical ‘Red and White Roses.'”

“This will be the first major musical performance for you since joining the fleet, and it will have a significant impact on your future promotion. First impressions are crucial, both for leaders and soldiers. If your first musical performance fails to leave a good impression, it will be difficult to recover later on. If you consistently perform poorly in musicals, it could even lead to early retirement. You have all worked hard for several years to graduate and become literary soldiers. Regardless of the scale of the performance, give it your all and make use of your training to justify the time and effort you have put in.”

“Alright, I won’t say much more on the topic. I’m sure you’ve heard enough during your time at the academy. Now, let’s decide which group will be responsible for the main performance in the musical. Do you have any self-nominations or recommended candidates?”

“Squad leader, I recommend our group leader, Erman, for the lead role. His acting skills were highly recognized by the teachers during our time at school. Moreover, he has received awards for singing and dancing,” suggested Lai Ji, the deputy group leader of Group 2.

“Lai Ji recommends Erman for the lead role. Does anyone else have self-nominations or recommendations?” asked the squad leader.

“I recommend our group leader, Luo Xi, for the lead role,” said Lin Ya. “The character portrayal in ‘Red and White Roses’ calls for an exquisite beauty, and among all present here, only our group leader possesses such extraordinary beauty.”

“Does being good-looking serve any purpose? For the role of ‘Red and White Roses,’ it requires not only being good at singing and dancing skills but also having strong acting abilities. Your group leader, during their time at school, has only received numerous awards for instrumental performance but never for musicals,” Lai Ji responded to Lin Ya.

Lin Ya retorted, “It seems like you conveniently overlooked the fact that our group leader has also received awards for singing and dancing during their time at school.”

“I already mentioned that a musical requires not only being good at singing and dancing but also strong acting skills. Does your group leader excel in acting? Furthermore, our group leader has also received awards for singing and dancing,” Lai Ji emphasized. “This musical performance is the first major one after joining the fleet, and it reflects the overall impression our group leaves on the soldiers and leaders. Naturally, we should have the most suitable person in the lead role. Do you want to show off at the expense of lowering the overall quality? Don’t be so selfish.”

“Yes, the squad leader just mentioned it. This large-scale performance is very important as it influences the first impression of both the leaders and the soldiers towards us. For such an important performance, it should be represented by those with the strongest overall capabilities, showcasing their talents to the soldiers and leaders,” the team leader of Team Three said. “Those of us who don’t have influential backgrounds as literary artists can only rely on our skills to demonstrate ourselves and seize opportunities for promotion. It’s different for those of you with background. Even if your performance is poor, it won’t affect you much.”

Lin Ya turned to look at Tao Yuan. They had pushed the conversation this far, and naturally, he felt indignant. But even if he had a thousand words to refute, it ultimately depended on Tao Yuan himself and whether he had the confidence to take on the role.

Tao Yuan spoke up, saying, “Have any of you seen my performances? How can you be so certain that I’m not good enough? Why don’t you ask the team leader of Team Two or our class’s performance teacher about their evaluation of our acting skills?”

All eyes turned to Erman.

Erman didn’t respond to Tao Yuan’s words but instead said, “Arguing like this is pointless. Since we are all in the same team, we should unite and work together. Constant arguments will only breed resentment among us. Let’s stay calm and, for the sake of fairness, decide through a vote.”

Tao Yuan sneered inwardly. Erman had remained silent all along, and only when their side pushed the discussion to this point and he was pressured by Tao Yuan, did he decide to speak up and act like the peacemaker. Talking about fairness and using a vote to decide when their side clearly had more people was just a façade. The outcome was already evident.

The squad team leader had already led two batches of new literary soldiers before, and had become accustomed to such arguments. Sometimes it even escalated to the point of pointing fingers and name-calling, or almost coming to blows. Today’s level of argument was nothing compared to those past experiences. Erman suggested voting to decide, but even he didn’t immediately speak up.

Tao Yuan originally didn’t want to argue about these matters. His goal in this life was to capture Zuo Lei’s heart, and whether or not he played the lead in the musical didn’t matter much to him. Even if he missed this opportunity, there would be plenty more in the future. However, he couldn’t stand Erman’s hypocritical behavior and decided to confront him.

“I agree with a voting decision,” Tao Yuan said. “But it shouldn’t be an internal squad vote. Instead, we should let the soldiers vote. After a small performance, we can determine who receives the most support and let that person play the lead role.”

“I also think this method is the fairest,” Lin Ya immediately chimed in. “Our performance is meant for the soldiers, not just for ourselves. It’s only fair to let them have a say in the decision.”

Erman and his supporters exchanged glances but remained silent.

“What’s the matter?” Lin Ya wore a mocking smile. “Don’t have the confidence to agree? Or is it that you only dare to have an internal squad vote because you rely on having more people on your side? But when it comes to facing the truth, you immediately back down? I have to say, you’re backing down too quickly.”

“Don’t speak so harshly. What do you mean by us backing down? Can’t we take a moment to consider?” Lai Ji retorted stubbornly.

“Heh, and I’m the one being harsh with my words? Then what about the things you said earlier?” Lin Ya said with a half-smile.

“I think this method is not bad. I agree,” Erman replied, having no other choice.

Lin Ya smiled and then looked at the squad leader.

The squad leader said, “Since you all agree, then that’s the decision. Meeting adjourned.”

The squad leader couldn’t be too biased towards the backgrounded literary soldiers, as it would cause dissatisfaction among those without backgrounds. However, they also couldn’t be too biased towards those without backgrounds. So, finding a method that both sides agreed upon was the best solution.

One by one, everyone left the meeting room. Representatives from Erman’s side went to Erman and Lai Ji’s room to discuss the meeting.

“He’s just a bit good-looking, what’s there to be so proud about? Not every soldier is so shallow, that only focuses on appearances.”

“Exactly, the soldiers nowadays have much higher standards of appreciation than before. Good looks alone don’t cut it anymore. Talent and performance are what truly matter the most.”

“Even though he doesn’t have the talent, he still wants to steal the limelight and end up dragging us down.”

“Erman, you absolutely cannot lose to him this time. You must secure the lead role in the musical and suppress their arrogance. Then, they won’t be so arrogant anymore.”

“That’s right, Erman. Although talent is more important in the long run, when it comes to first impressions, having a better appearance gives you an advantage. In your performance this time, you must be able to attract the soldiers and gain more support than Luo Xi. We will do our best to cooperate with you.”

“Since every group has to prepare two performances, when it’s our turn to perform, we can subtly promote Erman and encourage the soldiers to support him.”

“This approach is good. Whether it’s the initial performance of the musical or any future large-scale musical performances, we must unite and not let them steal the limelight.”

Although Erman remained silent, the words spoken by these people were exactly what he was thinking.

After returning to their room, Tao Yuan and Lin Ya expressed their displeasure about those people.

“It’s clear that there are already established rules now. The promotion of all literary soldiers is determined based on evaluations and accumulated scores. Regardless of their background, if their evaluations and scores are not good enough, it’s difficult for them to achieve higher promotions. Yet, they still believe that just because they have a strong background, they should be given all the good opportunities. This mentality of ‘my background is weaker, so you should make concessions for us’ will only persist for a long time.”

Tao Yuan smirked and said, “It’s impossible to eradicate such thinking. In any era, there will always be people who only consider things from their own perspective. You can’t expect them to stop thinking in a single direction.”

“Whether it was during our time in school or when we joined the fleet, the requirements placed on us with a background were much stricter than those without. We had to achieve scores two levels higher than theirs, despite all of us going through years of hard work and training. This was done to prevent them from feeling unbalanced and thinking that our backgrounds and better conditions resulted in better opportunities and starting points. Yet, they still harbor resentment and believe that we should make concessions for them. It’s simply a flaw in their thinking, even though these rules were put in place to address their grievances.”

“No matter what rules or regulations are in place, they will always have such thoughts. They want to benefit from our background, yet they also believe that we should automatically accommodate them. But once someone among them stands on our side in the future, their perspective will change,” Tao Yuan said.

Lin Ya grew angrier the more he thought about it. He said to Tao Yuan, “Whether it’s this time or in the future, we can’t let them have the opportunities. Each of us should rely on our abilities, and whoever is capable should take the lead. Show your skills and make sure to garner more support than Erman.”

In the past, due to the popularity of literary soldiers in the military, some soldiers would spend money to buy gifts for literary soldiers, creating a culture of comparison and competition. Some soldiers even spent all their savings on gifts, which had a negative impact.

Later, regulations were put in place that prohibited soldiers from giving gifts to literary soldiers. However, after efforts and negotiations by the soldiers, as well as discussions with the leadership, the concept of gifts was transformed into virtual items, and the military provided the funds for them. Soldiers were not allowed to use their own money to purchase gifts.

These virtual gifts were given in the form of three voting opportunities per month for each soldier to vote for their favorite literary soldiers. 

And these gifts could be converted into cash. Although the individual value of each gift was small, popular literary soldiers could still earn a considerable amount of money. Essentially, it became a form of bonus given by the soldiers. For literary soldiers, the number of gifts received not only represented their popularity and vanity, but also served as a reference for their performance and future promotion opportunities.

The literary soldiers without backgrounds want to support the idea of having the most outstanding person, in this case, Erman, take the lead. They hope that if Erman becomes the most popular among the soldiers, it will bring more opportunities for them to showcase their talents as well. Since the soldiers have a significant say in deciding whose performances they want to see, if Erman receives more opportunities, even if they are in supporting roles, it would still be a chance for them to shine and receive attention.

Erman and his supporters wanted to seize the opportunity to perform in the first-class musical. Tao Yuan had no intention of giving them that chance either, so everyone would have to rely on their own abilities to see who could perform better and attract more soldiers.


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