they are!”

The recruits, with Kang Jin-Ho in the lead, couldn't do anything but stand at attention as the taunting rained down on them.
Thankfully, the truck driver climbed out of the vehicle and shooed away the annoying soldiers.
“Hey! Stop tormenting these kids and mind your own business!”

“Yes, sir~”

A short while later, the co-driver stepped outside the office building, then guided the recruits into the Battalion Commander's office.
They were subjected to the usual sermon by the Battalion Commander before finally being allowed to the administration section of the building.

The co-driver spoke to a soldier behind a desk that looked like a clerk.
“Call the squad commanders and tell them their new recruits are here.
Did you contact Alpha and Bravo already?”

The clerk nodded.
“Yes, sir.”

“What about Charlie, though?”

Charlie said they don't have anyone to dispatch today.
They'll only send someone to fetch the recruits tomorrow.”

“Is that right? Then…
Let the recruits rest here at the HQ.”

“Understood, sir.”

None of the waiting recruits understood the strange terms being thrown around.

Soon, squad commanders sporting epaulets entered the administration office and cried out, “Victory!” before leading away the recruits assigned to their squads.
As for Kang Jin-Ho and Ju Yeong-Gi, they could only stand awkwardly in the office as the rest of the recruits were all led away.

The co-driver-cum-officer addressed one of the clerks.
“Hey, Tae-Yeong?”

“Corporal Yun Tae-Yeong, sir!”

“Take these… ahjussis to where they'll be staying overnight, give them clothes to change into, and…
And, give them some smokes, too.”[2]

“Sir, understood.” The clerk at one of the desks got up and approached Kang Jin-Ho.
“Ahjussis, please follow me.”

“Yes, sir.”

“It's fine to address me casually.”

“Yes, sir.”

Yun Tae-Yeong couldn't help but smirk at that.
No matter what he would say, these two recruits wouldn't be able to 'hear' him, and they wouldn’t understand his intentions either.
The two new saplings didn't have the concept of being in a corps yet, after all.

Ju Yeong-Gi and Kang Jin-Ho followed Yun Tae-Yeong to a residence hall, then they changed into casual clothes.
Afterward, they were taken to a smoking area by the corporal.

Yun Tae-Yeong asked the two, “You smoke?”


“Yes, sir.
I do.”

Kang Jin-Ho replied briefly, while Ju Yeong-Gi replied with a deep nod.

Yun Tae-Yeong provided them with cigarettes.
“Here, have a smoke.
Your seniors will take care of such things for you once you get to your assigned base.
However, I'll help you with that as long as you're here.”

Ju Yeong-Gi was taken aback.
“Sir? I thought this was our base?”

“No, ahjussis. Your assigned base is still a bit of travel away.
Alpha and Bravo are located right here in the HQ, but Charlie is a separate artillery unit.
Although you were supposed to go there today, they told us that's gonna happen tomorrow.
Sounds like they don't have anyone to dispatch for the time being.”

Ju Yeong-Gi tilted his head.
What the corporal said sounded like Korean, but some parts sounded more like indecipherable gibberish.

Yun Tae-Yeong grinned.
“Just know that you'll be taken to a different base tomorrow.”

“I see.” Whatever happens, it happens; to Ju Yeong-Gi, his attention was more focused on the cigarette before his eyes, not the matter of having different bases.

Yun Tae-Yeong lit the cigarettes up for Ju Yeong-Gi and Kang Jin-Ho.
“Ahjussis, you two are in for a rough ride from tomorrow onward, so at the very least, relax as much as possible today.”

Ju Yeong-Gi was taken aback once more.
“Huh? Is it that bad?”

“Hmm, how should I describe Charlie…
It's a separate artillery unit, and it’s pretty infamous for being a bit rough around the edges.
Looks like you two have pretty good physiques.
That’s probably why you got assigned there.”

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly listened while sucking on his cigarette.
He mused inwardly.

'I thought I'd be quitting, so this…'

Who knew he would get to smoke this frequently after joining the military?

Yun Tae-Yeong continued, “It'll soon be dinnertime, ahjussis.
Enjoy our meal and get some good rest tonight.
The vehicle that’ll fetch you should come tomorrow morning.”


Once the smoke break was over, Yun Tae-Yeong guided the two back to the residence hall.
“Please enjoy your stay here.
You can also watch TV if you want.”

Before leaving, Yun Tae-Yeong showed them where the TV remote was.
Once he left, Ju Yeong-Gi scanned the hall where only he and Kang Jin-Ho were present.
He tilted his head and said loudly, “Wow. Isn't this a heck of a lot nicer than what we thought?”

“It seems that way,” Kang Jin-Ho replied flatly.

“I figured we'd be hazed like crazy and chewed on by the seniors as they cry, Welcome to hell, rookies! Well…
I heard the military had changed a lot over the years, and I guess it's all true.
That corporal was so friendly, wasn't he?”

“Mmhm. However, it's still too early to be sure.”

“You think so?”

As the two chatted away, the hall's doorway opened.
Soldiers finishing up their daily duties rushed inside before noticing the duo.
“Hmm? New recruits?”

Kang Jin-Ho and Ju Yeong-Gi hesitated, not knowing how to respond.
Thankfully, though, someone else behind the entering soldiers replied for them, “Nah, not ours.
These ahjussis are destined for Charlie.”

“Aaah, they are those ahjussis, eh?” A soldier sporting a sergeant's insignia approached the duo and smiled brightly.
“Wow, ahjussis.
You guys are heading to Charlie, eh. You have my sympathy.
You two are gonna have a hard time there. Oh, hey. Have you smoked yet?”

“Yes, sir…”

“Well, if you wish to smoke some more, don't hesitate and talk to me.
Relax as much as you can and enjoy your stay.
I mean, you'll be jumping into hell tomorrow, so might as well get as much rest here as possible, right?”

Ju Yeong-Gi's and Kang Jin-Ho's expressions stiffened a little.
Ever since their arrival here, people had been implying that Charlie was like hell itself.
Was it just a running joke to intimidate the new recruits? Or was the people's perception of Charlie that poor? It was hard to tell.

Kang Jin-Ho and Ju Yeong-Gi followed the other soldiers to the mess hall and had dinner while ignoring being called 'ahjussis' for some reason.
After dinner, they meandered around until bedtime.

After taking up a couple of unoccupied bunks in the corner of the residence hall, they listened to the other soldiers addressing them in sympathetic voices.

“Ahjussis, have a good rest tonight.”

Sleep well, you poor ahjussis.”

Ju Yeong-Gi grew increasingly nervous.
He couldn’t help but ask Kang Jin-Ho in a quiet voice, “H-hey.
Don't you think something's weird here?”

“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho grunted while also feeling a little confused.
This situation was quite different from what he had heard about the experiences of the other new recruits.
“We'll be in our assigned base tomorrow.
We'll find out once we get there.”

“Well, that's true, but…” Ju Yeong-Gi couldn't finish his sentence and simply groaned deeply.
“…Eiii, I don't care anymore.
You're right! We'll see when we get there, won't we?!”

Kang Jin-Ho glanced at Ju Yeong-Gi and saw the latter closing his eyes to sleep.
He then followed suit.
Whatever the case might be, he should get some idea of what was in store for them come tomorrow.

“Hyung” or “Hyeong” is a noun used by Korean males to address another male older than them who they are close to, according to MacMillan Dictionary.
Hyung literally means “older brother.” ☜

“Ahjussi” or “Ajeossi” refers to an older man, usually someone unfamiliar.
It can be translated into various English alternatives like “mister” or “uncle” depending on the context. ☜

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