“Are you out of your mind? You want me, a deserter, to make the battle plan for the army?”
Joon-young looked back at the questioners, puzzled. In front of him were many of the officers in Headquarters, their ranks ranging from sergeants to colonel.
Joon-young was in the cafeteria for his rations. He could tell he wasn’t appreciated by the kitchen staff, as he was given the coldest meal in the kitchen with a complimentary icy glare. That was when the officers entered. When he first saw them enter, Joon-young was preparing himself for a lynching. Instead, what he got was a baffling plea from them. A sergeant making the battle plan for the entire army to follow is nonsensical at best. He neither had the knowledge nor the experience to do such a thing. That was when the colonel, the highest ranking officer in the group, stepped forward and began to read the document in his hand.
“We’ve heard a lot about you. Full name, Kim Joon-young, 18th regiment, 3rd Division. Fought for the defence of Cheorwon during the initial attack from North Korea. While your regiment was routed by the enemy’s use of biological weapons, you’ve rallied nearby troops and prolonged the battle, managing to hold the North Korea’s 743rd Army in place for 3 days. You then proceeded to retreat when the North Koreans halted their advance, waiting for the Americans’ complete withdrawal of their forces from South Korea. For those achievements, you were promoted to First Sergeant. Afterwards, you were transferred to the Capital’s defence force. You were tasked with protecting America’s withdrawal by leading one of the platoons manning the anti-air defences. 2 days later, you seized full control of the entire division by force. You then proceeded to shoot down an American transport plane which held the family members of politicians and shareholders of major corporations. You were arrested immediately and sent to martial court. You confessed in court that “I couldn’t stand the fact that while we were completely fucked down here, those rich bastards could continue living like they owned the world.” You were demoted to Private and sentenced to death by firing squad…”
Ah, those were embarrassing times.
Joon-young slowly turned away to avoid eye contact with the colonel. He continued to read through his document.
“… 1 hour before the execution, you were pardoned by the military officials who refused to follow the president’s declaration of surrender. You were promoted back to sergeant, and joined the Navy’s 1st division in Pohang to prevent the 7th division of the Japanese Self Defence Force from landing. You refused the order of retreat when the Self Defence Force successfully took control of half of the city. You continued to fight urban warfare and proceeded to detonate the fuel stations, LPG tanks and oxygen tanks in the city, thereby destroying the Pohang city and the Japan’s 7th division as well. You then chased after the retreating 7th division and proceeded to use chemical bombs against them, turning their retreat into a rout. You were promoted back to First Sergeant for carrying out plan ‘Diarrhea,’ which routed the enemy forces. However, by using the chemical weapons, you gave justification for the world to label us as ‘rebel forces’. You were sent as reinforcement to retake Incheon from the Chinese. You requested to use chemical weapons for the plan, but it was denied as the higher-ups noticed the deteriorating public opinion due to Pohang. You then took your troops and officers who agreed with you and commenced the plan. The success of plan ‘Lightning’ promoted you to Sergeant Major. After retaking Incheon you were given the nickname ‘Crazy Terrorist.’”
“Ahaha… They didn’t call it the poor man’s nuclear bomb for nothing. It was damn impressive. Kukuku.”
“7 cases of disobeying orders.”
“Ordering to engage an armoured division with just rifles isn’t a proper order on my watch.”
“10 cases of deserting the battlefield.”
“How do you expect your men to fight when the commanding officer is the first to run?”
“Multiple cases of violent behaviour directed at higher ranking officers, which lead to disciplinary actions.”
“I was going through some late puberty back then…”
“Although you were suspected of killing many of your officers, there was insufficient evidence from soldiers. You were in a cycle of promotions and demotions. Although you are currently Captain, you continue to call yourself Sergeant.”
“It didn’t feel right, since I only got it temporarily to lead a Company.”
Joon-Young scratched his head. During his promotion spree, he even held the rank of Major at one point.
“You ambushed a Japanese convoy transporting our national treasures as spoils of war. You then proceeded to burn it in front of an English war reporter, stating ‘If I can’t have it, no one will.’ This helped spread your nickname, Crazy Terrorist, far and wide.”
“Aahaha, I do regret that a little…”
“Is that why you burned the Bulguksa?”
“He didn’t believe me.”
While many of the officers in the group were appalled by his answers, the colonel pulled out a voice recorder.
“…. You must not regret. For the soldiers who died and will die out there believing in the false hope.”
It was the conversation he had with Yoo-ra.
“I knew you were monitoring them, but you were recording them as well?”
“Ever since the research director ran, we increased the level of surveillance on all researchers. Han Yoo-ra, the Chief of Research is our most valuable personnel.”
“Well since you’ve done your research, you should know I’m quite insane. Why do you want me to make the battle plan?”
“The generals of Headquarters have decided to surrender. They are people who would be satisfied with being written as the last commanders of the resistance in the history books. Most of them have already made a deal with the Japanese. They will keep their ranks as Generals in Japan and will not sit through a trial for their war crimes. The Chinese and the US have noticed it too and have started negotiating with their own terms. Currently, China’s 237th Armoured Division is advancing to this region. The US and Japan became desperate and began to negotiate more generously in response, and Headquarters took it. Some have decided to join with China instead.”
“And I thought they were some of the better generals in our army. Tsk tsk.”
“Those who continued to refuse the deal have been relieved of their command.”
“The rolling stone takes place of the old one huh.”
Joon-young sighed at the colonel’s words. He knew something was off when generals began joining halfway through the war, but he didn’t know they completely took over the army like this. As soon as their own safety was guaranteed, they had no qualms with surrendering. For the officers and soldiers, those who gave up everything to fight, those who were labelled as ‘rebels,’ all that awaited them were death and destruction. These men had all the reasons to revolt against the decision to surrender.
“But why me? As you know I’m just a meager Sergeant. I’m sure there are many who have received proper military education from the Military Academy here.”
“That’s the problem. I’m sorry to say this, but we aren’t as insane as you. When we make a plan, we tend to leave one or two backups and escape routes, intentional or not. We don’t want that. As you’ve said, I want them to think ‘those bastards’ when they think of us. We’ve finished our talk with the soldiers. We have no wish to live anymore.”
The colonel’s eyes glared back at Joon-young. It was twisted and bloodthirsty. The very same look Joon-young sees when he looks in the mirror.
“Kuku, so the Colonel will listen to a Sergeant’s orders? Man, I guess things do go crazy when a nation falls.”
“That’s right. This would be a great example.”
An eccentric, somewhat sinister laugh echoed within the cafeteria.