Descent of the Demon Master
“That's not all! We'll be rewarding the best-performing soldier, too! So, I want you to bring both of those honors to our company if you can! The best-performing squad and the best-performing soldier at the same time! That will net you twenty days of leave! That's basically the same as capturing a North spy.
Get my drift, gents?”
“Yes, sir! We do!”
With that, the morning roll call came to an end.
Choi Hyeon-Seok excitedly raised a fuss to Jo Won-Gu.
“Serg! Did you hear that, sir? We're going to get extra leave!”
Jo Won-Gu frowned deeply.
“Urgh… I'm pissed about participating in the damned training when my discharge is practically around the corner, so stop with your nonsense, will ya?”
“It's not nonsense, Serg! If our squad gets chosen, your final leave will be twenty days!”
“…Oh?” Jo Won-Gu's expression quickly brightened when something he had failed to consider was brought to his attention.
“You're right! Now that I think about it, that's true, isn't it?”
“Serg, it's worth a shot.”
“But, it won't be that easy.
Our squad ain't the only one, after all.
Considering the size of our battalion, I'm guessing there will be over eighty squads competing for the top prize,” Jo Won-Gu muttered while rubbing his chin.
“I can't say for the other categories, but as far as the in-trench combat exercise? Sir, our squad will definitely win, no questions asked.
And I think it'll be the same story with categories requiring physical strength.”
Jo Won-Gu impatiently asked, “As I said, how?”
“Well…” Choi Hyeon-Seok's head slowly turned to the side.
His gaze stopped at exactly where Kang Jin-Ho was holding a notepad on standby.
“…As long as his existence doesn’t get declared a scam or a cheat, I think we stand a great chance, Serg.”
Jo Won-Gu stared back and forth between Choi Hyeon-Seok and Kang Jin-Ho before nodding energetically.
“Alright! Let's go for it, then! The best-performing squad, here we come!”
“Keep your legs together, please!”
“Don't spread your legs open, please! And keep your mouths shut!”
“Owl No.88! Time out!”
“Yes, siiiiir!” Jo Won-Gu’s reply was quite loud as he panted.
He clenched his teeth hard.
'Best-performing squad, my ass!'
He only had one month left before his discharge, yet he still had to participate in this grueling training.
He was deeply unhappy about this situation, but for some reason, PT involving calisthenics this time felt several times harsher than before.
The drill instructor roared, “PT No.8! Twenty times! How many times?” 
“Twenty times!” the soldiers roared back.
“One! Two! Three! Four!”
Jo Won-Gu was convinced that this particular drill instructor was a devil incarnate.
That was because he had been torturing the recruits with crouch-hopping and legs-up whole-body twisting exercises for quite some time now.
So much attention was paid to those two exercises that Jo Won-Gu began to wonder if they had forgotten about the other types.
It was inevitable that some people would start to lose their minds when things reached the breaking point.
Jo Won-Gu listened to his fellow soldiers loudly repeating the 'slogan' and bitterly chuckled to himself.
He already knew that these cruel drill instructors wouldn't end the so-called training sooner than usual just because the soldiers were roaring out some meaningless slogans.
After all, these red-beret-wearing devils in human guise weren't benevolent enough to give the soldiers a break just because the latter displayed commendable training spirit!
Even if the soldiers were doing great, the true goal of these drill instructors was to put them through a wringer until no one was doing great anymore.
Maybe that was why? Jo Won-Gu was deriving a sense of perverse satisfaction while listening to the rather-unique slogan of “Eighteen!” being roared out.
'Maybe I should join them, too?'
“These brats! You think this is a joke, huh? PT no.11! Prepare to crouch-hop, now!”
“Prepariiiing!” Jo Won-Gu cried out while changing his posture.
He had begun drooling from the corner of his mouth, but he didn't have the mental leeway to wipe that away.
'These bastards! What has gotten into them today?!'
He thought his physique had gotten weaker after becoming a sergeant.
He was a bit more… fleshier now, so his stamina had to have fallen somewhat.
That was why the training seemed too torturous—at least that was what he believed.
However, the more he endured, the more convinced he became that this PT's difficulty had gone up far more than the last time.
However, this training wasn’t some kid's playtime.
The drill instructors wouldn't surely increase or decrease the difficulty simply out of their whims, so why?
That was when a familiar voice registered in Jo Won-Gu's hearing.
His head slowly turned to look behind him.
It was then that he felt like he could deduce the reason for this anomaly.
The drill instructor roared, “PT no.11, fifteen times! How many times?”
The attention of all the assistant instructors was focused on only one person.
Jo Won-Gu thought that they were looking at him for some reason, but he chalked that down to nothing but 'just a feeling.’ However, he was mistaken.
They weren't looking at him.
“…Hey, you! Kang Jin-Ho, you bastard!” Jo Won-Gu cried out in sheer resentment that verged on pure venom.
Behind him was none other than Kang Jin-Ho, perfectly carrying out the training as the field manual had dictated—there were no deviations whatsoever!
Look at his perfect angles, his perfect movements! It was as if he was disdainfully saying, “Your pathetic little training can't tire me out.” No wonder all the instructors had been triggered into action!
Jo Won-Gu cried out again, “You!!! I told you to take it easy, didn't I?!”
“Sir? I don't follow?”
“Damn it! Take it easy already! Pretend you're having a hard time, alright!”
Desperation crept into Jo Won-Gu's cries after he had finally figured out the culprit behind this torture.
Unfortunately for him, the red-beret-wearing folks didn't seem all that willing to understand Jo Won-Gu's plight.
“Owl No.88, Jo Won-Gu!”
“…Acknowledged.” Jo Won-Gu trudged over to the time-out area and began rolling around in the muddy ground.
The drill instructor called him out, “Are you ready to pull your socks up, soldier?!”
“Did your head get too big for your own good, soldier?!”
Why did he have to go through this nonsense when the end of his military service was so near? Jo Won-Gu gritted his teeth as sweat soaked his whole body.
While crawling on the ground, he raised his head ever so slightly and stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
Goosebumps immediately broke out on Jo Won-Gu's skin at the sight of Kang Jin-Ho performing literally the textbook definition of legs raised, twisting the whole body.
A normal human's legs shouldn't stay so perfectly uniform while doing that!
“Noooo, you mustn't…”
Only after the full duration of the so-called training was over were the soldiers released from the first day of PT.
Jo Won-Gu beckoned Kang Jin-Ho to come closer.
“Come here, Jin-Ho.”
“Private 1st class Kang Jin-Ho, sir.”
“…I told you to take it easy, didn't I?”
You told us to aim for the best-performing squad, didn't you?”
“…Sure, I did.”
“In that case, should I back off, sir?”
Jo Won-Gu stared at the distant heavens above.
Why were the stars sparkling so brightly tonight? Why was the moon so bright? He lowered his gaze and stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
The task of explaining something as blindingly obvious as knowing when to do his best and when to take it easy seemed like an insurmountable task.
The soldier named Kang Jin-Ho was way too unyielding and straightforward for that.
When nicely put, he was a pure, nay, innocent little pup.
When not-so-nicely put, Kang Jin-Ho was a moron who had been trampling on the very idea of flexibility.
“…Jin-Ho, just do your thing.”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head slightly, looking somewhat unconvinced.
“Very well, sir.
The next morning arrived, and Jo Won-Gu got to learn the hard way how severe his slip of the tongue was.
“PT” stands for physical training.
The Korean military PT/calisthenics feature several different exercises. ☜
This is not a typo.
This is really from the raw. ☜
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