Corporal Xasl #3

In the third installment of this great story, Xasl is forced to take a leadership role and help others to survive basic training.

Xasl saw the recruit at the top of the ladder jump at the Sergeant’s response and stared in horror as she lost her footing and slammed down onto the shoulders of the man below her on the ladder.  Fortunately he was a big man and was able to hold onto the ladder, but he stepped on the hand of the man below him and there was a curse from him.  Seconds later, the sergeant was there grabbing people and throwing them off the ladder as he worked his way up to the two in question.

“You just went back to day one recruit.  I may kick you out of the service if your idiotic move injured one of your squad mates.  Now climb down here onto my back.”

The young woman climbed down onto the sergeant’s back as the big man adjusted his grip on the ladder and shifted his weight to help her, at one point taking a hand off the ladder to grab her shirt and hold her steady as she climbed down holding onto his shirt.

A soon as the sergeant reached the ground he started in again.

“Now get your ass down and start doing push-ups.  I’ll tell you when you can stop.”

The young woman dropped to the ground and started immediately without saying a word, but Xasl could see the tears running down her cheeks as she did so.

The recruits resumed coming down the ladder in order and taking their positions in the squad.  When the last one was down, the sergeant yelled again.

“This dumb ass could have killed more than one of you today with her loss of composure.  Since she is part of your team and you did not help her get past that bit of idiocy you can all join her in push-ups.

Get to it now!  Squad leader call cadence!”

“Down.  Up.  Down.  Up. Down….”

Xasl could see out of the corner of his eye as the sergeant went over to the young woman who had slipped and put his boot in the middle of her back, clearly pressing down to make the push-ups harder.

Then he started ranting at her again.

“How dare you put my squad at risk!  In a war zone, you just killed the entire squad.  And I bet you don’t even care.  Do you bitch?”

“Sergeant, I care.  Sergeant.”

“Plox crap!  You don’t care a bit.  If you did you would not have jumped on recruit 27’s shoulders and nearly dragged him off the ladder.  I bet if I weren’t here he would have kicked your ass for that.  Wouldn’t you 27?”

“Sergeant, no Sergeant.  Recruit 22 is a member of my squad Sergeant, and my life may depend on her. Sergeant, we would have helped her regain her footing Sergeant.”

“See there 22.  Recruit 27 would sacrifice everything for you.  But you only care about yourself.  You jumped on his shoulders without any regard for the possibility he would go down with you.  Someone who cared would never have lost her concentration in the first place.  And if she did, she would have thrown herself to the side to make sure no one but herself got hurt.

But you are a selfish bitch aren’t you 22?”

“Sergeant, no Sergeant.  I made a mistake Sergeant, it will not happen again Sergeant.”

“You damn right it won’t.  Because you are not going to be in the squad any longer.”

And the sergeant stepped up onto the recruits back so that she was carrying his full weight.  She struggled, but kept moving and Xasl’s respect for her went up considerably.

Would I be able to carry his weight that well?  I had best work on building some bicep muscle.

The berating and push-ups continued for several more minutes until the young woman was struggling mightily to push herself off the ground.  But she would not quit, and Xasl again adjusted his opinion of her.

Finally the sergeant stepped down off her back and called a stop to the push-ups.

“Recruit 22 you will run 5 paces behind the squad.  You don’t get out of the run by being incompetent.  But you will hold your weapon belt above your head during the run and yell cadence as you tell the world that you are an incompetent bitch.”

“Sergeant, yes sergeant.”

“Squad, drill formation.  Forward, March!  Double time, March!”

And they were off running with the sergeant running beside them.

“Sound off 22!”

“Sergeant, yes sergeant.”

“We are squad 1 yes we are.  The best squad near or far.  I’m an incompetent bitch you know.  But 27 saved my ass today.  Sound off.”

“One, Two”

“Sound off.”

“Three Four.”

“Bring it on down.”

“One Two Three Four, One Two… Three Four!”

The sergeant had the young woman continue repeating that cadence through the entire run around the base and back.  When they stopped for a water break half way through the run, he made her continue to run in place shouting the cadence.

It was clear that the sergeant had intended this stop to be more punishment for the young woman because he had stopped them at the edge of the pond bordered on the other side by a hill covered with trees.  Two messages were being sent.  ‘Look at all the water’, and ‘You have a long uphill battle to graduate’.  Xasl could not believe the cruelty of the punishment.  The sergeant even had her facing the water as she ran in place.

Xasl went over and ran in place with her and shared some of his water ration with her so she would not get dehydrated.  He looked at the sergeant expecting disapproval but was surprised to see the sergeant flash a look of approval before yelling again.

“Fall In.”

Xasl moved back to his place in the formation and they were off once more.

When they got back to the barracks, the sergeant again yelled at the young woman.

“22 move to the front of the squad, on the double.”

“Sergeant, yes sergeant”

The young woman jogged to the front of the formation and faced the sergeant.

“Sergeant, recruit 22 reporting as ordered.”

“Turn to face the squad 22.”

“Sergeant, yes sergeant.”

“Squad.  One of your number has shown a willingness to forgive recruit 22.  I am going to ask you in a minute to declare by a show of hands if you are willing to forgive her as well.  But first, you must know that you will have to share in her punishment if you choose to forgive her.  I will not declare the punishment until you declare your choice.  And to forgive her you must have a unanimous vote.  Is that understood?”

“Sergeant, yes sergeant.”

“Okay, by a show of hands, who wishes to forgive recruit 22 for her incompetence.”

Xasl raised his hand and heard the movement of arms around him.  All those in front of him in the formation had their hands up.

“All opposed, same sign.”

Xasl pulled his hand down and saw all those in front of him do the same.

“Very well.  The squad has spoken.  22 you may speak to the squad.”

“Sergeant, thank you sergeant.  Squad, thank you for your unity.  It is an honor to be a member of the squad.  I swear you will not regret it.”

“Take your place 22.”

“Sergeant, yes sergeant.”

“Squad, the punishment for incompetence is 200 push-ups.  Which you have already done.  The reward for demonstrating unity is pride.  Clean up and meet back here in 30 minutes for chow deployment.

Dismissed!”

Xasl could not believe his ears.  They were not going to be punished and the sergeant actually indicated he was pleased with them.  What a strange world.

“29 front and center.”

Xasl felt his heart stop at the sergeant’s summons.  He turned on his heel and moved smartly over in front of the sergeant.

“Sergeant, recruit 29 reports as ordered.”

“29, you demonstrated courage and significant leadership skills today.  I am promoting you to squad leader.  Break the news to recruit 1.  She will take your place in the formation.”

“Yes sergeant.  Right away sergeant.”

“Dismissed.”

Xasl turned and hustled to get to the back of the line that had formed to climb the ladder.

No good deed goes unpunished.  I was doing so well at keeping my head down and avoiding attention, why did I have to go give 22 water?  Squad leader is responsible for everyone.  Damn!

Xasl reached the top of the ladder and moved to the front of the squad line to speak to recruit 1.

“Recruit 1.  My apologies but the sergeant has informed me that I must assume the duties of squad leader.  You are to move to my position in the formations going forward.”

“Oh thank god!  …Sorry, I mean.  Yes, squad leader.  Thank you.”

Xasl nodded his acceptance of her response and stepped in front of the squad and led them back up to the barracks.

Once they were in the barracks he hustled to get into and out of the refresh unit dressing quickly and putting his sweaty clothing away properly.  Then he went to help the people who had failed on the inspection at the beginning of the morning so that the barracks would be in inspection shape when the sergeant next entered.

As everyone else hustled over to line up at the door, he made one last pass through the entire dorm making minor adjustment and ensuring everything was ready.  From now on he would be responsible for any problems and he wanted no more attention if he could avoid it.

He could hear some minor grumbling as he finished his walk through and joined the unit.  One of the grumbling recruits was the sergeant’s pet and he made a point of looking her in the eyes.

“Cut the grumbling 31.  I just fixed five errors in your display.  When we return this evening we will go over the discrepancies so you don’t get demerits in the future.”

“Yes, squad leader, thank you squad leader.”


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