Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 197
"Colonel, how is Claude doing now?" asked a fat-faced captain. He was Fitney's supporter, Captain Kantaya of the logistics unit.
He played a part in Sidori's assignment of Fitney to Claude's tent, but he didn't think the consequences would be that far reaching. He was already cursing Fitney and Sidori to the deepest parts of hell in his mind. What the hell was it about making an example of him? Can't you guys see that you stepped on the tail of the lion? How can you be so blind to not notice someone with a background like him?
"After the incident, Claude was unconscious for two days and only regained consciousness on the third. Doctor Perunt said that he was rather badly injured. Fitney had been extra harsh and if he were injured even further, he would end up crippled even if he managed to be saved. However, he has a rather good constitution and his recovery has proceeded rather smoothly after his awakening. Doctor Perunt estimates that it will take him some three months before a full recovery. I paid him a visit last night, and he was bandaged up like a mummy. At least, his mind is still doing well."
Colonel Montauk seemed to grow angrier as he spoke. he glared harshly at Kantaya and said, "Even if Claude doesn't have Baroness Maria behind his back, it still is a huge scandal for a cadet in our corps to be injured so badly by his own tentsman!
"Do you think this can pass off as accidental injuries from a training exercise? It's unquestionably a fight between nemeses! Fitney was almost ready to go for the kill! After two decades of peace, have you guys lost your discipline? Aren't you afraid that you'll be shot behind your backs by your own men by letting the soldiers bully the cadets?!"
The colonel felt thirsty mid way and tried to look for his cup, only to remember that he had flung it at Sidori. Captain Kantaya on the other hand was keen enough to notice. "Please wait, Colonel. I'll get you another cup of tea."
He turned and hurriedly left the room.
A first lieutenant in the room asked, "Colonel, how is Fitney doing now?"
"How? He's become a joke in the whole corps. He was kicked in the nuts by Claude just as he was educating the cadets on how they should prevent an enemy's death struggle! What a perfect example he made for the class! His shriek shook the whole camp!" A mocking smile surfaced on the colonel's face. "Last night at the infirmary, Doctor Perunt told me that he just finished surgery on Fitney during noon and cut off his man parts.
"It couldn't be helped. Those things were practically rendered into meat paste by Claude. His nuts were crumbled and swelling like bread fresh out of an oven. He wasn't able to piss for days and Perunt had no choice but to stick a reed tube down his urethra to siphon the pus and urine out. It hurt Fitney so bad that he begged someone to kill him. The doctor had no choice but to knock him out with numbing toxin and remove his thing that was growing to be a threat to his life.
The colonel's description might have been too graphic to the point that the officers felt a breeze down in their crotch and unconsciously tightened their legs.
Montauk didn't notice the change in their posture, however. "Doctor Perunt told me that after the amputation, if you will, Fitney's life is no longer in any danger. But he would no longer be able to piss standing in the future. He believes the best choice is for him to be discharged and sent home lest he continues to be laughed at in the camp. Losing his thing might also cause the destabilisation of his psyche. Given how strong he is in fights, he might become an unstable element in the corps.
"I think it's best to have him discharged and sent home. Is he still a man without his member? Even if he's good at brawling, we're in the age of firearms, not the old days when we fought with blades and spears. His fighting prowess won't boost our unit's efficacy by much anyway. Instead, he would merely serve as the butt of the jokes of the other soldiers if he stays.
"Doctor Perunt's assessment is mostly correct. Letting Fitney stay in the camp would only give him chances to seek revenge against Claude. He would be a source of constant unrest in the camp. We can discharge him on the charge of injuring someone during training and send him home that way. I believe we can use that to placate Claude."
Being discharged and sent home in that era wasn't a good thing. Usually, people were only discharged due to suffering from injuries. The volley fire mode of war made it so that all nations cared a lot about the combat capability of each and every unit. Healthy and complete soldiers wouldn't be discharged before their service term ended. Anyone who became a soldier and tried to get themselves fired to avoid the fate of becoming cannon fodder on the battlefield could only do so in their dreams. It simply wasn't possible.
In Fitney's case, being sent home after his amputation could be considered being discharged due to disability. He had lost not only the symbol of his manhood, he also lost all six years of time and effort he spent in the military. He would only be a peasant for the rest of his life and could never ascend to become a dignitarian. Given that he was already a sergeant-major, he was just one step short of becoming second lieutenant. Being discharged at that point was nothing short of cruel.
"I believe First Lieutenant Hockham speaks sense. Fitney already lost his thing, so he's no longer a real man. We can discharge him on account of his disability and tell Claude about it to get on his good side. After he recovers, we will let him fill Fitney's shoes as sergeant-major. I'm certain he'll be satisfied with this arrangement," said Mykes.
He quickly showed his support for Hockham's suggestion. He believed that he was involved solely by association through no fault of his own. Even though he was working fine in the main camp, he was sent to become the chief instructor of the training course at the base. It wasn't that bad initially, since he would only have to serve three months as chief instructor before he could go back to the main camp and be promoted to commander of his own unit. If he were lucky, he might even become a tribesman or a right-hand of a tribe. After gaining a little more merit, he would be able to earn a single silver crescent on his shoulder mark to replace the three green stars.
Who would've thought that such a fiasco would occur at Fokby Hill... The darned Sidori actually did that behind my back and pit two nemeses together... He really didn't consider my standing at all and ended up causing such a ruckus... That cadet, Claude, has connections that high up and now I'm involved in this... Just you wait, Sidori...
Bluefeather was one of the four main corps of Aueras and no matter how much influence Maria had on Stellin X, the corps wouldn't grovel and kneel to her disciple to placate him. Soldiers had their pride, after all. They were only concerned with how they should solve the issue and let it die down and convince Claude not to complain to Maria about the matter.
It was all too easy to undo years of hard work after all. It was a crucial time when Bluefeather was trying to secure an attacking role in the upcoming war. Nobody wished for word of that incident to reach Maria's ears, resulting in the ruining of the corps' plans.
So making sure Claude was happy was the most important thing. Mykes agreed with Hockham that they ought to try to find a quick solution to the matter. Discharging the emasculated Fitney wasn't a big deal. With him out of the picture, Claude would no longer have to worry about retaliation. The bonus of replacing Fitney as sergeant-major would most likely shut him up. Even if Maria did find out about it later, she wouldn't be able to fault Bluefeather for dealing with the matter inappropriately.
"B-but Claude is currently injured and still needs months to recover. He can no longer participate in the training. Would it be alright to give him the rank of sergeant-major? If he can't get his unit in order, his tent will be useless in battle and unable to coordinate with other tents in battle. Colonel Montauk already mentioned that war will break out within half a year at the latest. Wouldn't that cause lots of trouble on the battlefield?"
While they were mostly unanimous in their opinion to discharge Fitney, there were some doubts about giving Claude the rank of sergeant-major. One could only be considered a cadet after three months of recruit training. Strictly speaking, they were mere privates, not even corporals. Promoting Claude to sergeant-major and tentsman of his own unit was too obvious an attempt at placating him. What kind of soldier would be willing to serve an unfit tentsman like that? There was also the question whether his unit would obey his orders and work with other units on the battlefield.
"It'll be fine," Mykes said, "We don't need Claude to command combat units. During every recruitment drive, we'll always have some conscripts that have a string or two loose in their heads that aren't fit to be fighting soldiers. Even though they are able-bodied, they are slow-witted or mentally challenged in some way. Usually, we pick them out and toss them to the logistics units to work away and leave them to their own devices.
"We just have to pick some more normal ones from those folk for Claude's unit. We will definitely need to form additional stretcher units or keepers when we deploy on the battlefield from our ranks, anyway. We might as well do it earlier and let Claude take charge. That way, he can rightfully bear the sergeant-major rank and won't affect our combat ability. It's also shows that we did our best to care for Baroness Maria's precious disciple."
Captain Kantaya entered and respectfully served the colonel a cup of fragrant red tea. Kantaya made it from his personal stash of red tea, and Montauk was quite appreciative of that fact. As a logistics officer, Kantaya paid extra care to his superior officers and served them well.
Montauk took a sip of the tea before nodding at Mykes. "Your suggestion sounds good. I'll leave the matter to you. You must also indirectly hint Claude to come to the understanding that we only came to this arrangement on account of him being the disciple of Baroness Maria.
"However, you forgot to mention two crucial points. First, Claude's four noble friends were also sent to the infirmary by Fitney. According to the witnesses, Claude only fell for Fitney's provocation because that fool threatened the safety of his friends.
"Based on what we know, those nobles were more or less exiled into our forces to take part in the course. They don't have high standing in their households and can be said to be relegated to the sidelines. They were sent here for a chance at a better future, and we have many nobles in our army that are in a similar situation.
"However, they were only injured because they were involved with Claude. Doctor Perunt believes that it'll take them a month or two to recover, so they will also miss out on officer training. Since Claude is going to be sergeant-major for a non-combat unit on the battlefield, we shall let those four help him out. I believe Claude will be thankful to hear that.
"Also, don't forget to investigate which soldiers have a good relationship with Fitney. Make sure they are transferred to some other tribe. I don't want to hear any more payback incidents like this in the future."