Chapter 1: A Jade Warrior On Base
April 18, 1994
Life in Misera had settled down nicely after the civil war.
The Gangin did not run amuck. A lot of the Gangin didn't leave the reservations since that had been their home since birth. Others left as soon as they could find a job and a place to live. It was nice that they could work without having to apply for permits first and then be monitored by government observers.
There weren't any great demonstrations against the Gangin leaving the reservations. Most people in Misera were happy to have someone to hire for menial labor. Those hiring them found it was nice that they didn't have to deal with the government paperwork.
The Gangin recognized the low paying jobs for what they were, stepping stones to better paying jobs. They were moving up in the world. Gangin were opening businesses of their own. Some of those businesses were flourishing.
The economic situation in Misera was improving. Existing roads were getting repaired, new roads were getting built, and essential services were improving. Jobs making those things happen were plentiful, and unemployment was low. Other industries were booming. Life was good.
The fears that the representative of Jade Force in the president's office would turn into a tyrant were proving false. Pen Aleksy watched and listened and hardly ever said a word. He seldom interfered with any of the day to day business of running the country, except when a law was getting broken. Then he interfered, usually with a terminal result for the law breaker.
The country had held elections. Significantly enough, there were at least two, and often more, candidates running for each position up for election. No one was surprised when most of the previous members of the Senate who had been up for re-election, were tossed out of office. The rhetoric coming out of the Senate changed tone almost overnight.
A few candidates for office discovered that election fraud was severely punished by Jade Force. Their remains, with the wooden stake still stuck through their bodies, were on view outside the city for anyone interested in such a gruesome sight. The consequence of the brutal nature of Jade Force's justice, was a very honest election. All in all, the people were happy with the result.
From the perspective of the public, Jade Force was a pretty big unknown. It was a well accepted maxim that one did not bother a Jade Warrior. Assaulting a Jade Warrior was dealt with instantly, and with fatal result. At the same time, it was widely recognized that a Jade Warrior would not interfere with matters involving private citizens except when a law was being broken. More than one robber, mugger, and rapist had discovered that committing a crime when a Jade Warrior was in the area was a sure-fire way of committing suicide.
The public would have been outraged except that Jade Force published videos of the events as recorded by a video camera embedded in the helmet of the Jade Warrior involved in the incident. In each incident, there was a second voice granting permission for the kill. It was rather hard to twist the video of a clear cut crime in progress into something else, although there were those who tried.
When Jade Warriors walked down the street, people gave them a wide berth. There was a tinge of fear on the part of the public which was understandable. The public was used to those with power, abusing the assumed privileges that came with power. It was hard to understand that Jade Warriors didn't see any privileges accompanying power.
Jade Force had signed a contract with the government of Misera to improve the military, much to the chagrin of those at the top of the military. Among the terms of the contract, was the condition that Jade Warriors outranked generals and admirals. Their authority was limited only in that they could not order any member of the military to act against a civilian.
Part of the contract was that every civilian, male and female, serve two years upon reaching the age of eighteen or graduating high school, which ever came later. There were the normal exceptions for individuals mentally or physically incapable of being a soldier, although they were given the option of joining, anyway.
One young man, paralyzed from the neck down, had insisted on serving despite the objections of his doctors and parents. The military had accepted him with a Jade Warrior taking direct control over his training and daily duties. It was a major news story when the young man took on the position of intelligence analyst. He read reports flashed on a screen, and flagged those that he thought were significant by biting down on a switch. He was happy, the military was satisfied, and the public was impressed. Jade Force accepted it as normal.
Mandatory military service was not greeted with much enthusiasm by the people of Misera. It was particularly unpopular amongst the rich and powerful who thought that, at the least, their child should be an officer. Unfortunately, no one served their mandatory military service as an officer. Everyone began as a raw recruit.
The rich and powerful, along with their children, learned very quickly that as far as Jade Force was concerned, a contract was a contract. Jade Force enforced contracts to the fullest extent allowed. This even included blowing a hole in the side of a house, marching in, tying up the errant child, and marching out with the captive held over the shoulder without even a hint of an apology. Thus it was that the sons and daughters of the rich and powerful found themselves in boot camp, standing beside the sons and daughters of the poorest in the country. It was a bit of a culture shock.
Training in the new military was vastly different than what had been the practice in the past. There was still a boot camp, but it was extremely demanding. An individual didn't graduate boot camp until they passed the physical, and had acquired an essential skill that was needed by the military. It took some people a year to get out of boot camp. Excuses might be offered, but none were accepted. Reasons were given, but were dismissed as irrelevant.
One of the skills that was deemed essential, and was suitable for graduating boot camp, was proficiency in using a weapon. However, it wasn't a required skill. It had been recognized that not everyone should be issued a weapon. There were mental health issues that often came into play regarding that issue. Some just did not have the hand/eye skills. There were others who were pacifists and had strong objections to using a weapon. Still, a significant portion of those serving their mandatory service, chose to learn how to shoot.
Motivating them to learn new things, were the number of new ranks at the level of private. There was a Private Zeroth Class all of the way through Private Fifth Class. Promotion was based on what essential skills a private had acquired. Pity the Private Zeroth Class since everyone dumped on them.
Many had predicted that these changes would reduce the readiness of the army. To the amazement of those same people, it was soon obvious that readiness of the army was improving. A lot of young men and women rose to the challenges of harder areas of the services. There was active competition to become a paratrooper or a ranger.
The Gangin entered the mandatory service with enthusiasm. They saw this as a chance to show the country that Gangin were still warriors, despite years of isolation on reservations. A lot of them entered with the intention of a career in the military. They were highly motivated to succeed.
Standing in the center of the road leading into the base, Private Gafner and Private Kropf were on guard duty at a seldom used entrance to the base. It was a nice day, neither too hot or too cold. The sun was shining, and the two young men were enjoying their duty. No one had come by in the past hour and they stood there chatting about life in the military.
It wasn't that they were ignoring their duties of guarding the gate. Each man would look around at the surroundings to check out what was happening in the immediate area. They were quite aware of what was happening. Private Gafner glanced down the street and saw a jeep turn the corner. His eyes focused on the green flag with a castle in the center.
He stiffened and swore, "Oh shit! A jeep with Jade Warriors is coming."
No one had ever informed them what to do if a Jade Warrior showed up at the gate. Normal procedure for high ranking officers, such as a general, had them met at the gate by another high ranking officer. Everything about getting them into the base was usually cleared ahead of time. One thing that they did know, was that a Jade Warrior outranked a general.
Private Kropf stood at attention without making a comment. Private Gafner decided that was a smart thing to do and joined him. They stood there at attention in the middle of the road into the base. The only way to enter the base would be to drive right over them.
The jeep with three Jade Warriors came to a stop in front of the gate. Two Jade Warriors were in the front facing forwards and one was in the back facing backwards. The Jade Warrior seated in the passenger seat got out of the jeep. After a short exchange, the jeep drove on after a white truck passed it.
Private Gafner and Private Kropf remained standing at attention. They stood ramrod straight, shoulders back, chests out, arms to the sides, facing forward, and with with eyes focused straight ahead. It was a textbook perfect 'attention' stance.
Sword Miquel stopped in front of the two soldiers. They both snapped off a salute. He looked down at the name on the uniform of one of the men and then asked, "Private Gafner, what color was the truck that just turned the corner?"
"I don't know, Sir!"
"Private Kropf, what was the color of the truck?"
"I don't know, Sir!"
"Are you two on guard duty?"
"Yes, Sir," both men answered.
"Would either of you care to tell me why you don't know what color the truck was?"
"We're at attention, Sir!" Private Gafner said.
"Why are you at attention?"
"You're here, Sir."
A hundred men could have climbed over the fence ten steps down the road and both men would have been oblivious to it. They were lucky he was a Sword and not a Shield. A Shield would have gone ballistic. He was just disgusted.
"So you think impersonating a fence post because I'm here is more important than guarding this base?" Sword Miquel said.
"No, Sir! Yes, Sir! I don't know, Sir!" stammered Private Gafner not sure how to answer the question but thinking that he had to try.
"Drop that stupid salute, and look around! You're on guard duty, gentlemen."
The two men dropped the salute, but remained in a rigid posture. They quickly looked left and right, before looking straight ahead. Sword Miquel shook his head in dismay.
"Private Kropf. Stand over to the side there. I want to see your head moving from side to side like you are watching a tennis match. Do you understand?"
"Well, do it."
Sword Miquel then delivered a five minute lecture to Private Gafner on how a guard is supposed to do his duty. It was a scathing speech which brought the young man near to tears. It covered such things as how there were no superior officers, until they showed proper ID. They weren't to stand at attention or salute, until the identity as a superior officer had been fully established. Any officer who refused to produce an ID was to be shot as a spy. It covered the fact that the guard at the gate was the first line of defense, and that if the guard fell without warning others, that his friends would die.
He then went over to Private Kropf and repeated the same speech word for word. At least Private Kropf had listened to the speech previously and knew what to expect. He stood there wilting under the harsh words of the Jade Warrior.
Sword Miquel stepped back and said, "Now, guard the gate!"
The two men moved to their assigned positions. They were obviously much more alert to their surroundings.
"I want to enter the base," Sword Miquel said.
"I need to see your ID, Sir," Private Kropf said with a nervous break in his voice.
Sword Miquel pulled out a plastic card. It was green with a black castle on it. It had his picture and his name. He held it up for the Private Kropf to examine.
"You can go in, Sir!"
Sword Miquel entered the base. The two soldiers slumped and took a deep breath.
"I thought he was going to kill us."
"You and me both."
"I can hear you, gentlemen."
Sword Miquel walked down the road as if he owned it. He was alert to everything happening around him. Every person, every vehicle, and every building was examined and watched. He was continually looking for threats of any kind. It was simply a result of his training.
Everyone he passed stopped what they were doing to watch him pass. Everyone knew what a Jade Warrior looked like, but almost none of them had ever experienced one up close and personal. Those who had, knew the difference between a soldier and a warrior, having seen it first hand.
He walked to the main door of headquarters building and entered through it. There was a large impressive looking lobby just inside the entrance. National, army, corp, division, and brigade flags hung on flag poles. Posters of individual divisions and brigades in action decorated the walls. He found the posters rather amusing.
A nervous looking guard at the lobby said, "Halt!"
Sword Miquel came to a stop. He looked over at the guard who didn't look intimidating at all. In fact, he looked like he was about to faint.
Somewhat amused, he said, "I've halted. What do you want?"
"I need to see some ID."
Sword Miquel pulled out his ID and showed it to the guard. The guard said, "Thank you. Would you please sign in?"
Sword Miquel went over to the reception desk where there was an open notebook with pages for visitors. He looked over the page seeing that each line across was for a single visitor. It asked for first name, family name, affiliation, date, time in, time out, and signature. He signed in. For his first name he put, Miquel. For his family name, he put Sword. For his affiliation, he put Jade Force.
He stepped back from the reception desk and looked over at the nervous guard.
"You didn't happen to talk to Private Gafner or Private Kropf in the last few minutes, did you?"
"Very good. Carry on," Sword Miquel said with a smile.
He casually strolled down the hallway to the office of Colonel Naff. He walked past a rather surprised Corporal into the inner office. Flustered, the Corporal tried to follow him, but found the door slammed shut in his face.
Irritated at being disturbed, Colonel Naff looked up at at the Jade Warrior who had just entered his office. He swallowed heavily as his irritation transformed into concern. Having a Jade Warrior walk into his office was not a good thing. He rose to stand beside his desk.
"What can I do for you?"
"I am here to train your troops."
"You are?" Colonel Naff asked indignant at the suggestion that his troops required additional training.
"That's right. At the moment, they are basically worthless."
"Worthless? I'll have you know that my men are the finest paratroopers in the world!"
Sword Miquel said, "I'll bet you a hundred dollars that ten Jade Warriors can kill everyone in all three of your battalions by lunch time. That would be about three thousand troops in half an hour."
"What?" Colonel Naff asked thinking he had heard him wrong.
"To make it interesting, we'll use real bullets. Your guys can use real bullets, and my Jade Warriors can use real bullets, too. If your troops can kill all ten Jade Warriors before the Jade Warriors can kill them, then I'll concede that your paratroopers are the best in the world. If they can't, well ... they'll be dead."
"Are you insane?"
"No. You're confident that your men are the best in the world. I don't think your three thousand men will be a challenge for ten Jade Warriors. So let's bet."
"There's no way I'm risking my men like that."
"That's odd. I don't feel like I'm risking even one Jade Warrior," Sword Miquel said. "I think you aren't quite as confident in your men as you say you are."
Colonel Naff stared at Sword Miquel. He honestly didn't know what to say.
Sword Miquel said, "I know exactly what your men can do. I've been watching your men train and I'm not impressed. On the other hand, you have no idea what a Jade Warrior can do."
Colonel Naff said, "Why don't you give us a demonstration? One that doesn't involve killing anyone."
"Easy enough," Sword Miquel said. He turned his head and spoke into a microphone on his armor, "Capture the first battalion."
"What did you just do?"
"Let's watch out your window," Sword Miquel said. "You have a great view of the parade grounds."
"How do you know?"
"I checked it out last night," Sword Miquel answered.
Colonel Naff moved over to the window. The First Battalion was in formation practicing drills for a parade. They were marching smartly, twirling their rifles, and doing it all in perfect harmony.
"They're practicing for a parade, aren't they?"
"Yes," Colonel Naff answered. "They're taking part in the Freedom Day Parade."
"They really look sharp."
"Like I said, they're the best paratroopers in the world."
"I'm sure you believe that."
"Wow, look at those helicopters," Sword Miquel said.
Colonel Naff looked at the five helicopters coming over the tops of the buildings. He couldn't believe his eyes. Jade Warriors were hanging from the helicopters on long lines, supported only by a harness. Each held a rifle, pointed at the troops, in one hand. The helicopters dropped closer to the ground to where the men were just skimming over the surface. He had never seen such precision flying.
When they reached the parade ground, the men released the pin holding the harness to the rope and dropped to the ground with rifles at the ready.
Rifles, which had just been thrown in the air in an aerial maneuver as part of the drill routine, fell to the ground. The troops stared blankly at the Jade Warriors. With a single shot, fired into the ground, the soldiers raised their hands in surrender.
Just like that, the Ten Jade Warriors had captured a thousand soldiers.
"Is that a reasonable demonstration?" Sword Miquel asked.
Colonel Naff had wanted to say that it wasn't fair, but that wasn't the point. Not one of the soldiers had reacted until he'd had a gun pointed in his face.
"We'll start their training tomorrow morning."
"Fine," Colonel Naff said staring at his troops sitting on the ground with their hands on their heads.
Sword Miguel spoke into his microphone. The five helicopters landed, the Jade Warriors boarded, and then they were gone.
Sword Miquel said, "It's lunch time. I'm going to head over to the mess hall. I want to get a feel for the morale of the folks over there."
"I'd join you, but I'm not feeling very hungry at the moment."
Five minutes later, Sword Miquel entered the mess hall. He was greeted with an unpleasant situation. He was sad to see it occur, but it had not been unexpected. A physically large Private Third Class was verbally berating a Private Zeroth Class. He was shouting loud enough that everyone in the mess hall could hear each word he said.
While most of the mess hall went quiet when the Jade Warrior entered, the large private was too busy yelling at the other man to pay attention. He called that man an idiot, a moron, and an imbecile with equal regularity.
"I don't know which is worse, having to put up with a Miser or a Retard."
"I think putting up with an angry Jade Warrior is worse than either of those," Sword Miquel said from directly behind the man.
The man turned around. He froze upon seeing Sword Miquel standing there. His eyes flicked down to the black sword emblazoned on the tan armor and then back up.
"Who are you apologizing to? Are you apologizing to me? I don't think you owe me an apology," Sword Miquel said coldly.
Sword Miquel turned to the room and shouted, "I want everyone of rank Private Fourth Class and above to come up here."
Over fifty people made their way to where Sword Miquel was standing. He pointed to one man and said, "Go back to the chow line and get your lunch. You came in after me."
The man, surprised that Sword Miquel had noticed that fact, returned to the lunch line. He couldn't have said who came in after him, if his life depended on it.
"Ladies and Gentlemen. Drop to the floor and start giving me pushups until I tell you to stop," Sword Miquel said.
He watched the shocked men and women drop to the floor. They started doing pushups. He watched them snap off ten pushups before he turned to address the entire mess hall.
He said, "This young man wears the uniform of a Misera Army soldier. He wears on his arm the half stripe that signifies that he has completed boot camp. He has proven himself physically fit and that he can provide a skill that is necessary for the smooth operation of this organization. He deserves a level of respect for that fact alone.
"He may have screwed up. I don't know, and I don't care. However, no one deserves the kind of abuse that I just observed. If a soldier can not trust those of higher rank to treat him well, then the man of rank can not expect those of lesser rank to perform to the full extent of which they are capable.
"Each and everyone of you who are performing pushups outranks the abuser. You had a duty to stop abuse of that nature. Not a single one of you stepped forward to stop it. You were derelict in your duty!"
One of the people doing pushups, stopped and looked up at him. Sword Miquel looked down at him and shouted, "Did I say that you could stop doing pushups?"
"Get back to it!" he said.
"In the future, if you should witness a scene such as I just observed, you will step forward. You will stop that abuse. You will see that the abuser is held accountable for his actions. You will take all steps appropriate."
He turned to the large private, and snapped, "Private Amaker! Stand at attention!"
The private stood to attention. Sword Miquel pulled out his knife and cut off the stripes on the man's uniform, leaving only the half stripe of a Private Zeroth Class.
"You have been demoted to Private Zeroth Class."
Turning to the man who had been yelled at, he held out a half stripe. He said, "Private Bruder, you have been promoted to Private First Class. Congratulations."
"Thank you," Private Bruder said while taking the half stripe.
Incensed by the promotion, Private Amaker shouted, "Why are you promoting him? He's a moron!"
Sword Miquel turned back to face Private Amaker. He slapped the private across the cheek with an open palm. The noise echoed loudly around the room. Everyone flinched. The people doing pushups stopped and stared at the tableau in front of them.
"You slapped me!"
Sword Miquel said, "He's smart enough to know better than to question a military decision made by a Jade Warrior. If he's a moron, what does that make you?"
"I'm going to file charges against you!"
Sliding his sword an inch out of its sheath, Sword Miquel said, "Since you can't seem to think with your head attached to your shoulders, perhaps you'll do better with it on the floor by your feet."
Obviously upset, Private Bruder stepped between Sword Miquel and Private Amaker.
"Please don't hurt him, Sword Miquel. He's not a nice man, but he doesn't deserve to be hurt."
Sword Miquel pushed the sword back into its sheath. It made a loud click.
"Private Amaker, you are an extremely lucky man. Private Bruder, a man who you have abused for a month, has just saved your life."
Private Bruder stepped back out of the way.
"Private Amaker, before you leave, there's one thing you might want to know. I had independent judgments from two Jade Warriors to kill you, right after you protested the promotion of Private Bruder. I chose to slap you instead. You might consider that before filing charges. Now get out of here, before I regret it."
Private Amaker fled the room.
Looking down at the people on the floor who were watching events, Sword Miquel said, "Ten more, and then get back to what you were doing."
Turning to Private Bruder, Sword Miquel said, "You are hero."
"You saved a man's life, today. That makes you a hero."
"I didn't mean to be a hero. I'm just happy you didn't kill him."
"So am I."
"Did you really have permission to kill him?"
"You slapped him instead."
"Because I knew that you are a hero, and would save his life."
"I'm going to get something to eat. When I'm done eating, I'm going to go into the kitchen so that you can show me how you wash dishes. You promised to show me how to do that last night, remember?"
"I remember. I'm good at washing dishes."
"I know you are. I talked to your superior officer last night. He told me that you're very good at washing dishes."
"That's nice of him to say that," Private Bruder.
"Now get to work, and I'll be by later."
"Yes, Sword Miquel."
Sword Miquel watched Private Bruder collect the tub of dirty dishes. The man took his load back into the kitchen. He might be mentally challenged, but he worked hard and was diligent in everything he did.
"If there are too many more like Private Amaker, then I've really got my work cut out for me. It's going to be a long time before Sada gets her army," he muttered before heading over the food line.
Edited By TeNderLoin