Descent of the Demon Master
eady had too many vacation days in his books he couldn't possibly use them up, and then he would distribute them to his fellow squad members.
If only he were a bad guy, I would have tried to rebel against him at least once,” Jang Jae-Hwan complained sourly.
The soldier responsible for eliminating all forms of irregularity and abuse within the squad as soon as Sergeant Jeon Hyeok-Su had been discharged was none other than Kang Jin-Ho.
Seong Tae-Ho was solidly in favor of Kang Jin-Ho's view, resulting in the 3rd Squad easily becoming the most infamous squad in the whole of Charlie artillery corps—they became the most democratic squad quite literally overnight.
Who would have thought that the mantra of 'You must perform your assigned duties' could be this terrifying? What an invaluable experience it was to learn that sticking to the field manual could potentially stress you out even more than cruel-and-unusual abuse tactics!
The military higher-ups had to be psychopaths, without a doubt! Or, they had to have thought that nobody in their sane minds would operate strictly according to the field manual while creating those regulations.
From what I heard from my friend in another squad, the seniors there totally went off the rails after accusing the juniors of not properly organizing their lockers, sir.
Compared to those guys, our Corporal Kang is a certifiable angel.”
Jang Jae-Hwan sagely nodded.
He never touches our lockers; he just tells us straight to our faces to re-organize them.
Again and again.”
“And when we're done, he tells us to do it again.
“S-sir, please calm down.”
“This is why I'll die before my time, man!”
Unfortunately, Jang Jae-Hwan had no idea he had been tempting fate with those words.
The officer in charge yelled, “Hey, Jang Jae-Hwan!”
“Private 1st Class Jang Jae-Hwan, sir!”
“Better wake up, or else!”
“My apologies, sir!” Jang Jae-Hwan shouted his apology, then sneakily shook his head as he tried to pull himself together.
'Did I catch a cold or something?'
Since early this morning, it felt like he was getting periodically lightheaded.
Kang Jin-Ho told him yesterday to wash up properly before going to bed, but Jang Jae-Hwan ignored that advice and just dozed off.
Maybe that was why his entire body felt so heavy and lethargic.
The officer growled loudly, “Don't forget that today's training involves gun laying, soldier!”
“Yes, sir! I haven't forgotten, sir!”
“Keep your wits about you, and don't you dare mess it up!”
“Yes, sir,” Jang Jae-Hwan replied while sighing under his breath.
Why did he have to do gun laying today of all days?
The 'gun laying' was a process of disassembling and then deploying a howitzer so that it could fire its shells.
It sounded simple enough, but the act of lifting up and re-orienting a seven-ton howitzer, then using sledgehammers to secure it on the ground before using jackeys to adjust its height, was one of the hardest hard labor you could imagine in the military.
The training was even performed as a time attack, to boot!
Regardless of your fitness level, just one round of gun laying would be enough to knock you out for the day.
'Should I tell the others about my condition?'
Saying he wasn't feeling well and opting out of the training wasn’t against the rules, but this was gun laying, not cleaning the barracks.
It wouldn't look good to opt out while saying he was sick.
Besides, his squadmates would have to take up the slack if he wasn’t there to participate.
Jang Jae-Hwan shook his head hard, then clung tightly to the howitzer.
After connecting the weapon and its platform to a five-ton truck, he stepped some distance away and stared at his handiwork.
“Gee whiz, so freaking heavy…”
Even when he was feeling good, lifting a howitzer once had made him feel like his back was about to break.
Today, though? The damned thing seemed twice as heavy as usual.
Sure, the howitzer's two wheels were touching the ground, and his job was just to lift the weapon's trails, but it still weighed as much as seven compact hatchbacks.
Obviously, pushing something like that by hand wouldn’t be an easy task at all.
I just have to endure it today.'
Tomorrow was Saturday, so he should be able to get plenty of rest.
No, hang on.
If he said he wasn't feeling well tonight, Kang Jin-Ho would immediately order him to stop everything and get some much-needed rest.
That was what Kang Jin-Ho's personality was like, after all.
Knowing this, Jang Jae-Hwan told himself to do his best to endure today's training.
After making up his mind, Jang Jae-Hwan followed the truck towing the howitzer and headed to the training ground.
The Battery Commander scanned his soldiers and loudly asked them, “Did you know that today, we'll be assessing each artillery corps' combat ability?”
“And what will happen if we're late?”
“That won't happen, sir!”
The Battery Commander frowned deeply.
“You lose to either Alpha or Bravo today, and you will all kill yourselves, me included! Do you understand what I'm saying?!”
“Come on, boys! Losing to them will be too humiliating, right? Let's be honest, we all know those brats are a bunch of weaklings! You know it, I know it! However, let's say we somehow lose to them today.
That means we'll be constantly mocked until next year's combat ability assessment! Do you want to be mocked by them?”
“That's right! So, train hard, fellas! And then, we'll play hard afterward! As a reward for working hard today, I'll order the duty officers to leave you alone during the weekends.
Meaning, absolutely no work! Do you understand me?”
“Yes, sir! We hear you loud and clear!”
The Battery Commander grinned in satisfaction at the energetic replies of his subordinates.
“Alright! Get ready, gents!”
The soldiers quickly got to their assigned positions.
They trained gun laying every fortnight, but they still couldn't do much about getting nervous during every training.
Among the news of incidents and accidents, you would occasionally hear about someone making a mistake during gun laying and dying as a result.
As such, their nervousness was natural.
After all, even if such accidental death was a rare occurrence, there was no guarantee that it wouldn't happen today.
“…Now, charge!” The Battery Commander issued the direction indicator, prompting the squad members to sprint toward their assigned howitzers.
They quickly proceeded to uncouple the weapons from the trucks, then raised the barrels.
Next up, the howitzers were quickly oriented before being secured to the ground.
'Damn it, I gotta keep myself together…!'
Jang Jae-Hwan tried to concentrate, but it felt like his mind was scattering in a billion directions with every breath he took.
Meanwhile, the senior soldiers rushed in to raise the cannon, then split open its 'trails' left and right.
While they were holding on desperately to maintain the balance, Jang Jae-Hwan extracted the 'spade' that weighed almost 100kg and got ready to move it, but then…
His head suddenly began to spin.
“Hey, what are you doing!”
“S-sorry, sir!” Jang Jae-Hwan tried to hurry up.
That was when a problem reared its head.
He was in too much rush that he failed to notice that the ground here wasn’t even and that the soil right before him had been gouged out.
His body momentarily lost balance, and he fell face first.
At the same time, his junior carrying the spade together with him and trying to back away also lost his balance and fell.
“Aaaaahk?!” Jang Jae-Hwan screamed as he crashed to the ground.
How could he not, though? He could vividly see the sharp-edged metallic lump weighing nearly 100kg falling onto the chest of his junior soldier, after all! If that thing landed on that poor guy's chest, it wouldn’t end with his ribs breaking into pieces.
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