“Lin Chucheng, you can come out now.”
Oraina opened the iron door and greeted the two inside with a closed-off posture. Lin Chucheng rubbed his eyes owing to his eyes not having adjusted to the sunlight, then tried to salute Oraina.
“I hope you two have learnt your lesson. Landing in detention is nothing to be proud of. Don’t forget to obey orders in the sky next time. You are soldiers, a group dedicated to carrying out Her Majesty’s will, not unbridled goons. The next time you defy orders, I will execute you.”
“Hmph.” Oraina walked up to Lin Chucheng and pinned a star-shaped medal embellished with a leaf at the centre onto the breast pocket area on Lin Chucheng’s chest. She gave his shaky chest a thump and explained, “That’s a silver oak leaf medal for you two to commend you on your courage. It’s one thing to defy orders, but you did defend our honour and complete the mission. Just try not to receive your medal in the detention room next time.”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Lin Chucheng’s voice quavered with excitement. All of his anger and discontent was gone. He held back his tears of joy as well as the urge to smile. Having received the medal, he supposed that Oraina genuinely punished him for disobeying orders and not because he was Lin Dongqing’s son, an assumption that lifted his spirits even further. Thus, he deemed her an excellent captain.
Oraina stepped back and saluted Lin Dongqing: “So, now that you have your medal, when do you plan to leave?”
“Leave? I-I never planned to leave… Y-you are not going to transfer me when I have already been in detention, are you…?”
“I’m not getting rid of you. Weren’t you intending to earn a medal? You should go home now that you have earned it, right? People usually take years to earn the medal. With this, you can proudly call yourself a terrific soldier even without mentioning Lord Lin Dongqing. Since you’ve achieved what you came here for, it’s time to go home, isn’t it?”
“N-no, Captain Oraina, I did not come here for a medal…” Lin Chucheng was cognisant of what Oraina implied; he just didn’t know how to respond. Rather, he didn’t want to respond.
They’re all the same. People think I just covet a medal despite my skill. They mistake my efforts for a craving for glory. I’ve never depended on Lin Dongqing, yet nobody would have regrets because of him. As much as I wanted to escape his curse, I can’t… Nobody will ever acknowledge me for as long as I carry this surname. I’m never going to distinguish myself…
Lin Chucheng, feeling as if he was plunged back into detention, gripped his shirt, but words failed him…
“Go home, Young Master Lin. There is no reason for you to remain here. It’s dangerous here. We can’t afford to bear the consequences if you die. We are not babysitters.”
“Captain Oraina, I think you have crossed the line.” Alice confronted Oraina with an akimbo stance. “Captain Oraina, we have reflected on ourselves and accepted our punishment. Do you not think you have crossed the line when you continue to heckle him after that?”
“Mind your attitude, Gunner.”
Alice caught the hand Oraina tried to push her with and responded, “I do not know what Lin Chucheng’s background is. Who cares if he is the son of a high-ranking minister? You think we would defy your orders and risk his life for a medal? Have you never been shot at? Have you ever had three fighter jets hunt you? You resemble a commander now, but can you describe the enemy?”
Slap! Oraina rocked Alice without hesitation then grabbed the latter’s collar and delivered another bloody slap: “You’re the one who has crossed the line. How many more days do you want to spend in detention?”
“Captain Oraina, did you see the mosquito that crashed into me?” Alice spat her blood off to the side and resumed. “Pardon my bluntness, but you are not worthy of being a captain. We accepted our punishment, yet you continue to heckle us. Lin Chucheng could just go home if he was here to garnish his resume. Demonstrating a lack of judgement, unable to praise and punish appropriately, I see why you are still a low-ranking captain. I am now worried you will put a bullet in my back out of spite.”
Oraina rammed her fist into Alice’s face, sending the latter to the ground, then stomped on Alice’s face. As Alice struggled to roll away, Oraina delivered a kick to Alice’s gut, driving the latter into a wall. Oraina’s breathing grew louder as she threw her gun to Alice.
Lin Chucheng realised Oraina was planning to frame Alice for stealing her gun to justify the act of murder she was about to commit.
“Stop, Captain Oraina!” Lin Chucheng grabbed Oraina’s shoulder and shouted, “If any harm befalls Alice, I will inform my father right away.”
Oraina stopped for a second and then pushed Lin Chucheng away. She ordered, “Lock Alice in detention for another three days and halve her food allowance for affronting her commander! What do you want, Lin Chucheng?! This is not a babysitting centre?!”
“I don’t need you to babysit me! I’m Lin Chucheng. Stop putting Lin Dongqing and I in the same sentence. Whether I die or not is none of your business. I came here to serve in the military! I’m not leaving until I end this war!”
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