47. Same Platoon?
The host stepped up to the podium. “We will now begin the promotion ceremony. Candidates, please stand at attention.”
The soldiers ceased their whispering and fixed their gaze forward.
“Commander Kwang Hwi Baek is entering!”
All attending troops straightened their backs and stiffened up.
Familiar faces entered Dongducheon City Hall’s lobby which was being used as the main headquarters. The commander of the Kwang Hwi Faction, Kwang Hwi Baek himself, and his most trusted executives who have been with him since the beginning were now in plain view.
The pre-recorded fanfare blared out of the speakers.
“To the commander, present arms!”
The soldiers raised their right arm in unison.
Kwang Hwi lightly saluted in return.
The soldiers lowered their arms in perfect sync as if they were one body. Meanwhile, the executives all sat down on seats specifically arranged for them, except Kwang Hwi.
“First off, a few congratulatory words from our commander.” The host stepped back and Kwang Hwi took over his position in front of the microphone.
Kwang Hwi tapped on the mic twice to make sure it was working, then opened his mouth. “Candidates, step forward.”
Soldiers from the top of each column stepped forward. Unlike the others, these soldiers were wearing their pre-issued service uniform. The insignias on their chests glistened as they reflected rays of sunlight.
“Today, we are here to welcome our newest lieutenants,” Kwang Hwi continued. “They are the first to have climbed the ranks of lower enlisted and NCOs, and come out victorious.” A warm breeze enveloped the bright candidates. “Are you thinking of the clumsy second lieutenants of the past? Then you are gravely mistaken. Forget the weakness of the past. You are invaluable soldiers, incomparable to them.”
During peaceful times, second lieutenants were practically useless. They received the necessary training and education, but their utter lack of experience caused them to underperform on many levels.
But the new lieutenants of the Kwang Hwi Faction were different. They weren’t West Point or ROTC by any means, but they were molded through grit and blood from the bottom-up in the field. They were second to none in battling monsters.
And what the world needed most right now was the ability to fight monsters.
Kwang Hwi laid his gaze on the candidates. Their eyes sparkled. Despite their efforts to seem stoic, their excitement and anticipation betrayed them. It was obviously written on their faces. “Today you become commissioned lieutenants, but this is not the end.”
As soldiers who started as privates, becoming an officer would be a dream come true, but there were more feats to be achieved. They were just now taking their first steps into becoming officers. They still had a long way to go.
“Will you be satisfied with just being second lieutenants?!”
Kwang Hwi shifted his gaze and looked beyond the candidates to the rest of the soldiers. “Will you be satisfied?!”
“NO, SIR!” All of his men in the lobby roared in unison. They didn’t need to be addressed to know what Kwang Hwi meant. Theirs was a thunderous voice, echoing throughout the space.
Kwang Hwi roared in response. “Every single one of you can reach this spot! Do not be content! Strive for more! Survive! When all monsters have been eradicated! When peace has been restored! We will be the center of the new world order! Understand?!”
Satisfied, Kwang Hwi stepped down from the podium and approached the candidates with a smile.
The host hurried to Kwang Hwi’s side. He held in his hands the rank badges Kwang Hwi purchased from the <Combat Gear> category in the Merit Shop.
Kwang Hwi pinned the Second Lieutenant badges onto the candidates himself. The candidates shouted their rank and name each time Kwang Hwi’s hands touched their uniform.
“Second Lieutenant Sun Mo Yi!”
“Second Lieutenant Eun Hoo Kim!”
“Second Lieutenant Sahng Sup Lim!”
“Second Lieutenant Myun Young Kim!”
“Second Lieutenant Hyun Soo Moon!”
Ten names rang out through the lobby.
Kwang Hwi motioned with his hand after all badges had been pinned. All of his officials rose from their seats. In each of their hands was a small black case. “This is a little promotion gift.”
Engraved onto each case was a candidate’s name. Kwang Hwi opened one of them. A standard-issue Glock-17 was revealed, resting comfortably inside the case.
However, there was a slight difference. Instead of the manufacturer’s name, the candidate’s name, in Korean and English, was engraved onto the weapon. It was one of the many wonderful add-on features of the Merit Shop.
[Yi Sun Mo / 이순모]
On top of that, different color pigments were applied to the weapon, unlike its default counterparts. The distinction was impossible to miss.
Dumbfounded, the candidates received their glocks: their very own personalized pistols, none like them in the whole wide world. They were the ultimate surprise gifts.
Kwang Hwi applauded. The rest of the soldiers behind the candidates followed suit and began to clap as well.
He was confident he made the right choice. All eyes were gleaming with fire, not only the candidates but the soldiers behind them as well. He glanced at his Command System briefly to see that some soldiers had increased amounts of loyalty. Spending 5 MP to gain loyalty had not been a bad deal at all.
“Right! That’s all for today. Everyone, back to your posts! Fall out!” Kwang Hwi dispersed the soldiers back to their places. It was unnecessary to drag out these events; he’d rather let his soldiers celebrate amongst themselves and rest up.
Despite his command for them to fall out, Kwang Hwi’s soldiers left in formation.
Kwang Hwi made his way back to the office in the building.
Jackson was already there, waiting for him. “Boss, I came to give you a report.”
Kwang Hwi, now seated, nodded in response.
“Remember that facility we visited around the time all this shit began?”
“You mean where we got the Heron?”
It was the underground facility where the army general had presented the Heron. Multiple supplies and military vehicles were acquired on top of the Heron from that facility.
“Yep, that place. It was on lockdown under some protocol, but we unlocked it and resetted access authorization as well. It’s completely under our control now.”
This was good news. With the laptop already in hand, their status-checks and control were limited to a bare minimum. But under a more professional facility, operations could be widened exponentially.
“When can we start moving the Heaven’s Eye recon satellite?” Kwang Hwi asked.
“Right this moment… but we don’t exactly have the appropriate talent to control it so please understand if it’s a bit slow. Where do you want it?”
His chin resting on his hand, Kwang Hwi became lost in thought for a moment. “Have it directed towards Seoul.”
“Yeah, I got a bad feeling.”
Kwang Hwi still remembered the alert he received after he conquered Yeoncheon County.
[Nearby monsters will now be cautious of the Kwang Hwi Faction.]
[Armata is scheming up a plan to prevent the Kwang Hwi Faction’s advancement into Seoul.]
He wasn’t sure exactly what the enemy was planning, but he couldn’t afford to sit idly by. The least he could do was keep eyes on them and monitor them as much as he could.
“Then we’ll deploy the UAV over Uijeongbu and Seoul.”
A successful resolution was reached, but it was merely one of many reports Kwang Hwi needed to take care of. There were many more matters that needed Kwang Hwi’s attention.
“We secured a large amount of resources from Paju and Yeoncheon,” Jackson continued.
“Food, gear, you name it. We even managed to get a hold of an ARV and a Chinook from one of the bases in Yeoncheon.”
“An ARV and a Chinook? What a catch.”
ARV stood for Armored Recovery Vehicle and it possessed the ability to pull damaged armoured and tracked vehicles behind the frontlines for repairs. There was definitely no harm in keeping it. Even if Kwang Hwi was capable of instant repairs through MP, there was no guarantee that he would be aware of all damaged equipment.
The CH-47 Chinook was a transport helicopter often used by the U.S. and its allies. It was a medium-to-large sized heavy-lift helicopter, capable of transporting 33~55 foot soldiers or 13 tons of cargo. But the Kwang Hwi Faction was already in possession of the Mi-26, which was capable of carrying twice as much as that of the Chinook. The only edge the Chinook held over the Mi-26 was that it could be equipped with three machine guns, allowing it to provide limited fire support.
The price of the Chinook in the Merit Shop was an outrageous 8,000,000 Merit Points. Kwang Hwi was able to save 8,000,000 Merit Points.
“Alright then, anything else?”
“The active-duty soldiers we acquired from the two areas are going through training smoothly, but there was something I wanted your opinion on, Commander.”
“And that is?”
“These active-duty guys… we can mix the lower enlisted with our current lower enlisted members. That won’t be an issue, but we weren’t sure how the NCOs and officers would fit into our ranks.”
If ROK military members were allowed to retain their previous ranks in their transition into the Kwang Hwi Faction, there could be internal issues. Aside from the beginning members of the Kwang Hwi Faction, the organization just recently gained newly commissioned Second Lieutenants.
Despite Jackson’s concern, Kwang Hwi responded lightly with an indifferent expression. “Just clump them together based on rank, like batchmates dorming together.”
“What? I-I mean, what, sir?”
“Group them together by rank or as close as possible, and our boys can join in when they rank up.” Demoting them was not an option. But then again, so was letting the ones who did nothing but hide order around soldiers. They too needed to build field experience. The most logical solution was implementing the batchmate platoon concept, courtesy of the ROKA. “Work the shit out of them. No promotions until they rack up the adequate amount of experience.”
“For sure, sir.”
“Did we manage to collect the Unmanned Monitoring System deployed around the MDL?”
“We’ve obtained control over them and we’re currently figuring our way around their overall status. Some of them seem to be malfunctioning though.”
Throughout the Military Demarcation Line which faced North Korea, high-quality CCTVs were deployed under the control of a monitoring system. The system also came with unmanned turrets, but these had wasted away along with all other functioning weapon systems.
“It’s a shame that the mines are useless,” Jackson mused.
“It is too bad. But the monsters aren’t coming this instant so let’s just observe for now. We can always use the SPGs if we confirm monsters approaching.”
The world’s largest number of mines were buried in the DMZ and its vicinity. If the mines were functioning, they could repel fairly large waves of monsters all by themselves.
‘Current MP in possession.’
Small text appeared in front of his eyes in response to his thought.
[Current MP : 1,070,000]
The previous mass purchase of Dragonflies drained 800,000 MP, but they had all been restored after a few conquests and killing a couple thousands of monsters.
“Any equipment we need at this very moment?”
“An Apache for the big guy!”
Jackson was quick to shut his mouth after shouting with enthusiasm. He saw veins popping out of Kwang Hwi’s forehead. “No, sir.“
“…good. Let’s buy actual things we need first, like ammo and other essential consumables.”
Displayed on the bottom of the electronic document was a file that summarized the amount of munitions the Kwang Hwi Faction had spent. The amount was not small by any means. They did skirmish with the enemy at least once every few days so it wasn’t a surprise. Fortunately, small weapons munitions were relatively cheap so supplying them wasn’t an issue.
“I’ll take care of this today so—”
The fizz of static interrupted Kwang Hwi before he could finish.“Commander! Reporting in from the Situation Room!”
Kwang Hwi grabbed the walkie-talkie. “What’s up?”
“We caught something on the long-range radar!”
— Ω —