Chapter 22:


Curiosity Killed The Cat

Reohn woke up in searing pain. His head was ringing. Blood dripped from a gash by his forehead. When he tried to reach up to wipe his face, his arm sent him more pain. His uniform was covered in black mud. Everywhere he looked seemed unfamiliar and dark. Where am I? What happened? He tried to remember.

The ground was wet where he gripped it as he tried to stand. It was hard as he had never felt worse in his life. He looked up to see more foreign nature above him. Oh, that’s right. The last campaign was on this mountain side at night. He had lost his footing on the uneven terrain. Damn, that was so pathetic.

He opened his mouth to yell out, but thought better about it. Though it was quiet, there was no telling who was out there. His good arm reached for his gun still on the ground. His chest heaved as he thought about what to do. This was awful.

Deciding it would be worse to wait around, he slowly started walking. Infection will set in after not too long. Hopefully I can run into an ally or find base; he thought as he hobbled forward. Blood was dripping down his leg from his side. Man, this really hurts. I can barely walk. Am I going to die?

He clenched his jaw at the thought of getting sent to the medic ward. I haven’t even done anything yet. Getting injured this badly from doing nothing? This has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If I can’t fight anymore, I won’t even get an honorable discharge like this. I’m so worthless. I made my dad get himself killed for this? That thought made him want to scream more than the physical pain did.

Every step was torture. Not only from the pain, but also the fear of being spotted by an enemy. It was so dark; he couldn’t see barely two steps in front of him. Random sounds made him jump. After what felt like forever, he stopped to check his surroundings. He was panting. This area looks a bit familiar. Wasn’t this by base? Yeah, I think it’s less than a mile from here. He smiled.

Another step forward and he noticed something in the distance. There was something laying on the ground. The sight made his blood freeze. Was that a body? No, they were multiple bodies. He started to feel sick. He slowly walked closer with his gun up just in case.

There were three bodies that he counted. Two of them were enemies, and one was wearing his uniform. There weren’t any others left alive that he could see or hear. He felt bad for the soldier. He thought about at least taking his dog tag back to base. With the slightest crouch, he noticed. Oh. That was Liobin.

Reohn leaned on Nithew’s shoulder as he led them to where he found Liobin’s body. He had found Nithew wandering around base, wearing his spare uniform and not knowing what to do since his sister stole his position. Not that Reohn knew what to do either about this awful situation.

Nithew fell to his knees at the sight. “You knew we were getting here early, didn’t you?”

Reohn softly agreed.

“Damn it! What am I supposed to do now? I can’t let anyone know she died pretending to be me! I’ll be court martialed!” He turned around to Reohn, eyes ablaze. “This is all your fault! What are you going to do about this, huh!?”

Reohn didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t even look at his eyes. His hands trembled. He wished he had died in that fall earlier.

Nithew looked away and sighed. “It looks like she took out two guys by herself. She died braver than either of us.” He suddenly gasped. “I know. I’ll just take her place again.”

Reohn was confused. “What do you mean?” He asked nervously. He was afraid of the response.

He looked back at him with wide eyes and a smile. “I’ll change her clothes back to her old uniform and you shoot me so it looks like these guys here killed me. Then you go back to base as the last survivor. It’s simple!”

Reohn made it back to base a complete mess. Nithew and him had gone over what he was supposed to say, but he found himself at a loss for words in the face of the other soldiers. Through his stuttering, the officers managed to find the bodies and even pieced together what happened for him. They wrote up a report and let Reohn rest. He was praised for a job well done. It made him want to throw up.

The official story went as follows. Two enemies were found in the dead of night well-armed and carrying mass amounts of explosives with the intent of launching a sneak attack on their base. Liobin from the cooking staff heard noise as she wandered outside from anxiety. She led two soldiers that she found nearby, Reohn, who was returning to base, and Nithew, who was not currently assigned. Reohn was the last man standing in the gunfire, having saved countless soldiers.

The country of Gyns surrendered not long after that. It seems the sneak attack came from the fact that they were losing the war. When Reohn came home, the media was attached to his story. The public started regarding him as a hero and the military loved it. They used his story for government public support and military promotion.

Reohn spent his days meeting many people, trying his best to be confident and friendly. He was even given a high rank in the military, but he was honestly pretty lonely. His undeserved fame and worry for his brother, Kothur, gnawed at him. The government’s division to let women become soldiers due to low numbers from after the war also deeply hurt him. What would have happened to Liobin if this were made earlier? What would have become of him? He hid all of his guilt through a fake smile to keep up appearances. The real him was way more crass and unsociable.

When they told him Kothur was waking up, he was overjoyed. They told him his memory was fuzzy, so he was worried when he visited him. His brother was a bit thinner than Reohn was used to seeing him, but Kothur gave him the same smile he remembered. The first thing he did was smile back and shake his hand. That was when something mysterious happened. Kothur seemed to know the truth about what had happened to him. They both made a promise not to tell anyone about each other's secret.

“Your damn brother is deranged. His choice of job proved it.” Major Heonse said to Reohn with is arms crossed. His face was particularly distressed today.

“What’s the matter with the job, sir? You said he could he could pick any he wants.” Reohn gave him a confused look. 

It had nearly been a year since Kothur regained consciousness and it seems they thought he was fit enough to hold a job now. Reohn had enough high status that Kothur would receive a life of safety here, just for being related. It was high enough that being related to a person like Fehram didn't matter. Reohn just had to swear to fullfil his moral obligation should he or Kothur run into their outcast brother.

“We did let him pick from a wide option of jobs since he is your brother and all, but he says he wants to be a teacher. That’s a woman’s job.”

That threw Reohn for a loop. “Well... I guess if that’s what he wants, it’s fine, isn’t it? He’s been through a lot from our dad, so maybe he’s just not up to being around many men?” He tried to smooth things over for Kothur, even though their dad was nothing but kind to them. He had a feeling it was due to Kothur’s complex about not feeling manly enough. What the fuck, man. Why did that asshole have to make things more difficult for me, he thought.

“I understand he’s been through a lot, and they are considering it, but this is a rather serious matter. Do you know why we don’t allow men in women’s jobs? They pose a danger to the women working there. Not to mention it hurts the credibility of the guy.”

“Ah... I can assure you he won’t do anything. He’s harmless.” Reohn waved his hand.

“I’ll tell them that. He needs to be on his best behavior though, or they will throw him out. Will you take full responsibility if anything does happen?”

“Yes, sir. I will.” Reohn readily agreed, not fully knowing what he meant.