Descent of the Demon Master
Kang Jin-Ho's military life was basically the same as before.
Seriously, there was no difference whatsoever.
“Morning! Rise up, everyone!”
The morning bugle call rang out in the base.
Kang Jin-Ho sat up ninety degrees the moment he heard the call, and in less than thirty seconds, he packed his bedding up and began changing into his uniform.
Even though his motions didn't look rushed, he was still gobsmackingly fast.
As a matter of fact, Kang Jin-Ho was so fast that he was already finished tying the laces of his combat boots before his seniors could even put on their uniforms.
Rather than wait around and do nothing, he moved on to the next available task, which was to tidy up the rows of boots messily discarded the night before.
One of the corporals in charge yelled, “Hey, you lot! Get your sh*t together and hurry up!”
Thanks to Kang Jin-Ho's antics, the squad members on the opposite side of Kang Jin-Ho's spot felt like they had stepped on a dog’s turd.
'Urgh, that son of a gun! Give it a rest already!'
'Duuuude, are you a machine or what?'
'And it was so peaceful with that brat away on leave, too!'
It was inevitable that one would be compared to a person moving at the proverbial speed of light right next to them.
The sergeants still showed no signs of waking up just yet, which was great.
However, the corporals were up and moving about already, and they weren’t pleased by their junior squad members being only half as quick as Kang Jin-Ho.
They expressed their displeasure by putting said juniors through a wringer.
“I said, hurry the hell up!”
“Can't you see how Jin-Ho does it?!”
Of course, the juniors could see.
That was the problem in and of itself.
After a round of commotion passed by, the next item on the soldiers' schedule was to assemble outside and do a quick morning run.
That signaled the beginning of the daily activities, the first of which was to clean the living quarters.
This was also one of the times when Kang Jin-Ho shone the brightest.
“Hey, Jin-Ho?” Jeon Hyeok-Su cautiously opened his mouth to speak.
“Private Kang Jin-Ho, sir.”
“Well, uhm…” Jeon Hyeok-Su became even more cautious.
“It's wonderful that you are keeping our wooden floors clean, Jin-Ho.
But, uh, this is just my opinion, okay? I'm not quite sure if it's necessary to polish the floor with toothpaste so early in the morning.”
He wasn't exaggerating.
The floor was so spotless and sparkling that Jeon Hyeok-Su felt guilty for even thinking of sitting on it.
He used to think he was one of the tidier, cleaner soldiers on the base, but he had to concede compared to the human steam mop named Kang Jin-Ho.
Kang Jin-Ho replied in his usual flat tone of voice, “Sir.
I had some free time left, so I thought it'd be better to ensure everything was spotless.”
That's a good mindset.
However…” Jeon Hyeok-Su groaned softly.
He had heard countless many stories of senior soldiers experiencing hardship after accepting newbies into their squads.
However, his squad had to be the only one in existence to go through this type of challenge.
Did you finish inputting the coordinating data, then?”
I asked you something unnecessary, then.
And you probably have finished cleaning the cannon stands, so I don't even have to ask, right?”
“…I see.” Jeon Hyeok-Su could only make a cramped smile.
This was no fun.
No bloody fun at all! In the past, he had derived a lot of pleasure by bullying the useless Seong Tae-Ho, but Kang Jin-Ho's arrival had ruined that.
Not only did Kang Jin-Ho perfectly take care of his duties, but he did Seong Tae-Ho's share, as well.
Which meant Jeon Hyeok-Su couldn't find many opportunities to rake Seong Tae-Ho over the coal.
However, he couldn't express his displeasure with this situation as Kang Jin-Ho had also sneakily taken care of some of Jeon Hyeok-Su's duties.
Jeon Hyeok-Su scratched the back of his head.
“Hey, Jin-Ho? Any thoughts of making a career out of the army?”
“None at all, sir.”
“The more I think about it, the more it feels like the South Korean army will lose so much by letting you go, you see? So, please think carefully about this, okay?”
“I'm not interested, sir.”
Their conversation ended there, but the daily routine had only just begun.
And it also meant Kang Jin-Ho could literally go wild to his heart's content.
This time, it was Jo Won-Gu's turn to speak up cautiously, “…Hey, Jin-Ho?”
“Private Kang Jin-Ho, sir!”
“Mm. At ease, soldier.
You know our task today is to dig out a trench, right?”
“In that case, you should also know that our squad's job is to dig a trench right here during the morning hours, right?”
“Mm. Then, uh…” Jo Won-Gu scanned the trench before his eyes, his expression unreadable.
“Jin-Ho, it's been only thirty minutes since we started, but now that you are done digging this trench all by yourself, what should the rest of us do now?”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded solemnly.
“Sir, I'll rectify this situation.”
“…Hang on, what about this 'situation' you think needs rectifying?!” Jo Won-Gu could only mutter in dismay.
Maybe he's really Terminator?'
Jo Won-Gu's squad wasn't digging some hole in the base's training ground.
They weren't repairing trenches collapsed by the rainfall either, but digging out a completely new one after the army guidelines had changed.
What happened was simple—Jo Won-Gu pointed out the rough spot where the new trench was supposed to be dug out, then went somewhere for a quick smoke.
When he returned, though, he discovered that Kang Jin-Ho had basically dug half of the trench out by himself.
'We're still in the middle of the mountains, right? Not some beach filled with soft sand?'
Digging a trench in mountainous terrain wasn’t as easy as it sounded.
Those who had never experienced doing that before would simply assume that the mountain soil consisted solely of dirt, but the truth was anything but that.
You would soon learn that the innocuous-looking ground was actually half-filled with pebbles and stones of various sizes, all trapped and tangled up in the twisting roots of trees.
You would normally use a pickaxe to break the soil up and tidy it up first before chopping off the interfering tree roots.
That was how you were supposed to dig trenches in a mountain, but this…
Jo Won-Gu could only mutter helplessly, “Gee whiz.
A shovel ain't some kinda chainsaw, so how…”
Even if it was a chainsaw, breaking a boulder with it was simply nonsensical, no?!
The squad worked together to dig a trench, only to encounter a large boulder buried underground.
Its size meant they would have to dig somewhere else, but then…! Kang Jin-Ho suddenly lifted his shovel high up, then slammed it down on the imposing boulder.
Now, the normal ending would be the shovel breaking apart or the hand gripping it getting torn apart from the rebound.
However, that damned boulder must have fed its pride of being a big lump of stone to the dogs, as it just broke in half like it was nothing!
Kang Jin-Ho remained expressionless throughout, then even tossed the broken pieces of the boulder outside the trench as if they weighed nothing and tidied up the area.
All this happened in less than thirty minutes.
Jo Won-Gu muttered in disbelief, “Even though I saw everything with my two eyes, I still can't figure out what happened.”
If there were a global trench-digging competition, the winner would be quite obvious!
A squad member nearby also helplessly muttered, “…That's on the level of a shovel god, Sergeant Jo.”
“That's a polite way of putting things…”
“That brat uses his shovel like it's a bloody spoon, Serg.”
Jo Won-Gu slowly nodded.
The 3rd squad might have completed its morning task in thirty minutes, but that didn't mean they should get down the mountain and go back to base.
Of course, it also didn't mean they should ask for more work either.
So, the squad members took the next logical available option, which was to just laze around on the spot.
After lunch, though, the 3rd squad had to deal with an even more taxing job.
“Gimme a break.
We ain't some lumberjacks, so why…” Jo Won-Gu's face while going up the mountain with a large log in tow could only be described as 'cramped.'
After assigning you a tough job for the morning, the higher-ups would usually give you something easy in the afternoon.
That was how duties were supposed to be assigned, but for some reason, the 3rd squad had been designated as the 'reference' and the 'torch-bearer' and was often forced to do a ton of back-breaking jobs.
“This is why the army is so screwed up, I tell ya…”
If an exceptionally hard worker did their best to do a good job, the correct thing would be to reward them accordingly.
But in the army? All the difficult-sounding jobs would be dumped on the doorstep of that hard worker.
That was how militaries operated.
The 3rd squad completed the task of digging a trench in the mountain, which was a job everyone else had been trying to avoid with religious zeal, and what did the higher-ups do? They ordered Jo Won-Gu and his men to go back to the mountain and cut five large trees down, then bring the logs back to the base.
Jo Won-Gu continued to grumble.
“They ain't even gonna take responsibility if one of my boys gets hurt, so what the hell…”
Cutting a tree down wasn’t that hard at all.
The higher-ups tossed the squad a rusty saw, but these boys had grit and determination to spare.
Five or more trees didn't even matter.
What did matter, though, was trying to drag those five large logs down the mountain.
One slip-up somewhere, and their lives would be in danger.
“Uh-whew. Goddamned it…” Jo Won-Gu groaned in irritation.
Curses jumped out of his mouth all by themselves, but in the army, you simply had no choice but to do what you were told.
“Serg, how about this tree over here?”
Let's cut that one down.” Jo Won-Gu stood next to the tree while holding the saw.
He would leave the back-breaking work to his juniors, but as the squad commander, it was his job to deal with the dangerous tasks.
“Keep pushing, okay? I don't want my saw to get stuck.”
The squad members began pushing the upper part of the tree.
Jo Won-Gu gritted his teeth and began sawing the lower part with all of his strength.
Eventually, he felt totally drained about halfway through.
“Someone, switch with me.”
“Let me do it, sir.” Jeon Hyeok-Su volunteered and took over the saw's handle.
Jo Won-Gu took a couple of steps back and looked up, only for his head to tilt to the side in uncertainty.
'Huh? That looks like it might get stuck?'
The most dangerous moment while cutting down a tree was when said tree was about to fall to the ground.
The normal way to do things was to push the tree in the direction you wanted it to fall while sawing away.
However, branches would sometimes get tangled, resulting in the tree falling in unexpected directions.
That was how accidents usually started.
“Hey, you brats.
Looks like it's gonna get stuck at this rate.”
“Yes, Serg!” the squad members replied while flexing their arms and pushing the tree.
When the tree was cut about two-thirds of the way through, Jo Won-Gu's anxiety level began to creep higher and higher.
“Hey, keep pushing!”
“Serg, this thing isn't even budging!”
“I get it, so keep pushing as hard as you can!”
The squad members followed his order and continued to saw away, but the tree showed no signs of toppling over even as it was almost fully cut through.
'I think the branches got snagged somewhere up there…'
Jo Won-Gu glared up, wondering if they had to give up on this tree and move on to another one.
Although it would be a waste to throw away all the hard work they had put in, that was still a hundred times better than his squad members getting injured in a mishap.
Hey, you lot! We better…”
“Serg, it's falling!”
Before Jo Won-Gu could stop the work, the tree began tilting in the direction they wanted.
Jo Won-Gu looked up and muttered, “Oh, that's a reli—”
The tree, with its branches all tangled up, suddenly rolled to the side and began falling in the wrong direction.
“G-get out of the way, you idiots!” Jo Won-Gu freaked out and yelled.
Unfortunately, the squad members momentarily froze at the sight of the falling tree above their heads and could only stare at it in a daze.
“Goddamned it!” Jo Won-Gu tried to dash forward, only for a humongous thunderclap of noise to shake him up.
The falling tree suddenly went airborne, then landed somewhere safe with a loud thud.
“What the hell?”
What was that? Jo Won-Gu urgently rubbed his eyes in disbelief.
Did he just witness a large falling tree…
momentarily fly? A tree that big?
Despite choosing a tree that looked 'light' enough for people to carry down the mountainside, it should still weigh at least over 200kg.
But, such a tree still went flying?
Jo Won-Gu's disbelieving gaze slowly turned to catch the sight of Kang Jin-Ho withdrawing his outstretched leg.
“…Jin-Ho, did you, uh, just kick that thing?”
Kang Jin-Ho nonchalantly nodded.
“…You really did?”
‘Aha, so you did, eh? What a wonderful way to deal with the situation.
Next time, I'll also kick a falling tree out of the way.
Then, it's gonna go flying and land far away.’
“Are you bloody kidding me?! You punkin' me or what?!” Jo Won-Gu blew his top.
He didn't want to believe what he had seen, but did he even have a choice in the matter?! Before he could start his rant, however—
“Holy sh*t! That could've been bad!”
“Gee whiz, we dodged a bullet there! If it wasn't for those branches getting snagged up there, we'd all be marching straight into the infirmary by now!”
Jo Won-Gu was left dumbfounded by his squad members' declarations and had to ask them for clarification, “Wait, what? The branches got snagged?”
The tree got snagged right up there, you see? And it went whoosh and fell.”
Jo Won-Gu helplessly chuckled at that.
Did these meatheads not learn physics at school?! Just because some branches got caught, a falling tree would suddenly go airborne?!
“Maybe I was mistaken…”
Indeed, he had definitely mistakenly thought that the tree had gone airborne.
It had probably just gotten snagged by the branches of the nearby trees and rolled around before falling somewhere safe.
In the middle of this process, a brave idiot named Kang Jin-Ho tried to kick the falling tree at coincidentally the perfect timing.
That had to be it!
Jo Won-Gu quietly muttered to himself, “Yeah, even I can tell that was horsesh*t…”
“Did you say something, Serg?”
“Nah. Don't mind me.” Jo Won-Gu spat out a lengthy groan.
'Maybe I'm not feeling well?'
He couldn't tell whether he was genuinely mistaken or if he simply wanted to believe otherwise.
“In any case, Serg? Shouldn't we keep going, sir? I mean, we're supposed to cut five trees, right?”
Jo Won-Gu waved his hand dismissively.
‘Do whatever you want, fellas…’
Having lost his willingness to work, Jo Won-Gu sat down by the base of a tree and pulled out a cigarette.
Jeon Hyeok-Su cautiously addressed Jo Won-Gu, “…Serg, that dude can't be a human being, sir.”
“You think so, too?”
“I mean, a human being should know where to draw the line, right? Sir?”
The duo was staring at the logs being carried down the mountainside right before their eyes, unable to think of anything else to say.
When trying to carry a log down a mountain, you often had no choice but to drag it from the front.
Some might wonder why you wouldn’t try to roll it down the slope, but that was practically impossible when trees and plants grew in dense patches in the wilderness.
Not to forget, the mountain terrain itself was too uneven for that.
So, the normally-accepted way was for a person to lift the front of the log, leave the rear on the ground, then carefully drag it forward.
The thing was, though…
This task was definitely not easy, and it was prone to accidents, as well.
So, someone had to stay nearby at all times and switch positions regularly.
That was how it was supposed to be, but now…
“…That brat is definitely weird, sir.”
“You think so, too?”
Anyone would come to the same conclusion as Jeon Hyeok-Su after witnessing a normal-looking person carrying three logs under one arm and two more under the other arm while leisurely going down the mountainside!
Jo Won-Gu muttered quietly, “Even though those trees had to weigh over a ton combined…”
Since the rear of the logs was being dragged on the floor, the actual combined weight wouldn't be that heavy, but that still didn't change the simple fact that a single person couldn't carry that much.
At least, that was what Jo Won-Gu's common sense told him.
Kang Jin-Ho had been watching his seniors trying to drag the trees only to get caught often in the unevenness of the ground and stumble around.
As if he couldn't endure this sight anymore, he suddenly stepped up, took over all five logs before placing them under his armpits, then began carrying them by himself.
…All the while looking like he was out on a pleasant Sunday stroll, no less!
“Corporal Jeon Hyeok-Su, sir.”
“Buy some nice frozen foods for that guy in the evening, okay? And…”
“Call the infirmary and tell them that I want to get admitted there for a while.
Tell them that I'm beginning to see things.”
“…Serg, I think I should join you, too.”
Today, Jo Won-Gu had found another reason why he couldn't wait for his eventual discharge from the army.
“Serg” is a shortened form of “sergeant.” ☜
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