the side of the road!”

Seong Tae-Ho shuffled to the side of the road and lay down on his back.
It wasn't just him, though, as seemingly everyone started to stare at the night sky.

'…I think I'm dead.' 

Thoughts of just giving up flooded Seong Tae-Ho's mind every time he got a chance to lie down like this.
He managed to bring a canteen to his lips, but it was empty.
“Damn it…”

But then, someone pushed another canteen forward from behind him.

“Here, drink this,” said Kang Jin-Ho.

“…Thanks.” Seong Tae-Ho sheepishly accepted the canteen and realized how heavy it was.

'Jin-Ho hasn't touched a drop of water yet?'

Unscrewing the cap revealed the full canteen.
This only proved, without a doubt, that Kang Jin-Ho's fitness was beyond Seong Tae-Ho's understanding.

Seong Tae-Ho took large gulps of water, then raised his head to stare at the sky.
Countless stars seemed so close as if they would start to descend to Earth at any moment.

“Those stars are really pretty, aren't they?” Seong Tae-Ho quietly muttered, but Kang Jin-Ho didn't respond to him.
Of course, Seong Tae-Ho wasn't expecting a reply in the first place.
However, he continued, “I’m sure we would never see such a sight if we weren’t in the army.”

Kang Jin-Ho flatly replied, “I guess so, sir.”

“Don't you feel bad about joining the army, Jin-Ho?”

“I don't, sir.”


“Regardless of our feelings, we don't have a choice but to serve in the army, sir.”

“Well, that's true.” Seong Tae-Ho muttered; his thoughts were basically the same as Kang Jin-Ho's.
“What would I have gained…
after this is over, I wonder?”

“I don't know, sir.”

I guess, nobody knows.”

They couldn't know yet, as they still had plenty of time remaining to serve in the army.
However, Seong Tae-Ho still wanted to confirm whether the assertion of a man needing to serve in the army was nothing but nonsense or not.

“Break's over! We're departing!”

Seong Tae-Ho gritted his teeth and pushed himself off the ground.
Then, he politely pushed away Kang Jin-Ho's offered hand.
“Nah, I'll be alright.”

He couldn't accept help from a junior all the time.
He was already apologetic and ashamed about not being able to carry his own gear, so he didn't want to be looked after like a child right up until the end.

“Let's go, Jin-Ho.”

“Yes, sir.”

Seong Tae-Ho began walking again, his gaze staying glued to Jeon Hyeok-Su's back in front.
He was being pulled by Jeon Hyeok-Su from the front while Kang Jin-Ho supported him from behind.

'I can do this.'

He was not alone.
With his comrades around, Seong Tae-Ho felt like he could do it.
And that was the essence of a march.


Two pieces of good news were waiting for the 3rd Squad when they returned to their base.
The first news was that they were selected as the best-performing squad, and everybody would receive a ten-day-long leave.
The second news was Kang Jin-Ho being chosen as the top 'owl' of the training and would receive a separate ten-day-long leave.

Jo Won-Gu rubbed his chin.
“…Oh, wait a minute.
We have that reward from the talent show, too.”

“That's only a five-day-long leave, Serg.”

“That's still pretty good, no? Then, uh…
Jin-Ho's getting twenty-five days off?”

“Don't forget that Jin-Ho hasn't cashed in his regular off days yet, Serg.
Add them all, and he has gotten himself thirty-five days off, sir.”

“Holy cow.
A whole month?”

Other squad members jeered and booed in jest.
Of course, none of them was jealous of Kang Jin-Ho's lengthy leave.
After all, he fully deserved his reward, and they all knew that Kang Jin-Ho had been instrumental in earning the vacation time for all of them.

“Listen up, you bastards with no conscience! Don't forget to buy Jin-Ho a present after you return from your leave! Every single one of you! Got that?”

“Yes, Serg!”

Everyone cheered raucously at Jo Won-Gu's new order.
The guerrilla training was hell, but they still walked away with the sweet time-off from military life in the end.


Kang Jin-Ho's life had noticeably changed ever since the guerrilla training.
His seniors still found him difficult to handle, of course.
However, no one treated him as 'junior' anymore.
That was because they had realized Kang Jin-Ho was superior to them in both military-related knowledge and physical stats, making it rather difficult for them to call themselves his seniors.
Despite this, Kang Jin-Ho didn't look down on them, but the seniors still felt it was wrong to treat him as a mere newbie—a little junior.

Eventually, Kang Jin-Ho began to receive treatment equal to that of a corporal, even though he was still a Private 1st Class.
In other words, no one was meddling in his daily routines now.

There was one more change as well, and that was…

Kang Jin-Ho flatly called out a name.
“Jang Jae-Hwan?”

“Private 2nd Class Jang Jae-Hwan, sir!”

“The raised sleeping floors are dirty.”

“…!” Tears began trickling down Jang Jae-Hwan's face as he climbed on the raised wooden floor to mop it one more time.

Seong Tae-Ho and Jeon Hyeok-Su hurriedly tried to dissuade Kang Jin-Ho, cold sweat covering their foreheads.
“H-hey, Jin-Ho? Don't you think this is enough already?”

“No, sirs.
It's still dirty.”

“H-hang on a second, Jin-Ho! Take a look again, will ya? It's literally spotless!”

“But, sirs, it is dirty.” Kang Jin-Ho looked back at the duo with a confused expression on his face.
“If he can't even clean the floors properly, how can we entrust him with other tasks?”

“…Jin-Ho, have you ever thought that your standards are a bit out of wack?” Jeon Hyeok-Su cautiously asked.
He then tried to convince his abnormal junior that the people here were sweaty, dirty men and that there was no need to clean the floors so rigorously; all the while sorrow threatened to overcome his heart.

However, what choice did he have? Jeon Hyeok-Su determined that not intervening now might lead to the poor Jang Jae-Hwan developing some kind of long-term neurosis, so he had to do his best to convince Kang Jin-Ho.
“Jin-Ho, listen.
Humans don't have infinite stamina like you.
You mustn't carelessly apply your standards to other people!”

“…But, sir.
Not even this much?”

“No, this won't do.

“Corporal Seong Tae-Ho, sir!”

Jeon Hyeok-Su groaned.
“You take over the education of our new juniors from now on, okay? Otherwise, Jin-Ho might roast them alive.”

“Understood, sir.” Seong Tae-Ho nodded powerfully away to show that he unreservedly agreed with his senior on this topic.

Kang Jin-Ho, still making an unconvinced expression, tried to say something, “However, sir.
I should…”

However, an announcement suddenly came on the loudspeaker to interrupt him.

[Kang Jin-Ho, you have a phone call waiting for you at the Administration Office.
Come to the office, Kang Jin-Ho.]

Kang Jin-Ho glanced at the loudspeaker as his forehead creased a little.
No matter how busy he was, he never forgot to call home regularly.
And when he called yesterday, everything seemed fine with his family.
Yet, someone still called him in the middle of the day? Something had definitely happened.

Kang Jin-Ho turned his head to address Jeon Hyeok-Su, “Sir, I must go and take that call.”


Once Kang Jin-Ho quickly left the living area, the remaining squad members breathed a sigh of relief.

“Aigoo, what did I do to deserve this? Minding a junior's mood is so bloody exhausting!”

“You're right, sir…”

Jeon Hyeok-Su and Seong Tae-Ho slowly shook their heads in exhaustion.

Kang Jin-Ho soon reached the Administration Office and picked up the phone's receiver.
“Line secured.
This is Private 1st Class Kang Jin-Ho speaking.”

– Jin-Ho! It's me!

Unexpectedly, the voice on the line didn't belong to Kang Jin-Ho's family member but to Park Yu-Min.

“What's going on? What happened?” Kang Jin-Ho asked, sensing that Park Yu-Min didn't sound like his usual self.

His friend replied in a weak, trembling voice.

– It, it's the director.
Sister Yi, she…!

Kang Jin-Ho slowly squeezed his eyes shut.

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