A Problem With Pirates
Chapter 3: Officer Training School
Copyright© 2018 by Lazlo Zalezac
July 28, 1990
Forty-eight men, wearing the uniforms of twelve different countries, stood outside the gate waiting for admittance. Several of them, the highest ranking, were beginning to get a little irritated at having to wait outside. They felt that they should have been admitted as soon as they arrived. One of them had tried to push his way into the facility. The business end of a pistol placed gently at the center of his forehead had convinced him that it would be a lot better to wait until invited.
Sword Lifa walked through the open gate and stood in front of the forty-eight men. There wasn’t any kind of order in how they were arranged other than standing in twelve separate clumps. She frowned upon seeing that they were all men, no women.
Speaking Amran, she said, “Gentlemen, I am Sword Lifa. I am here to train you in how Jade Warriors do things so that when we tell you that something should be done, you will do the right thing. Is that clear?”
There was no answer. A lot of the men were wondering what this woman thought she doing by treating officers like raw recruits. Most of them felt that women were not fit for military duty and that having to deal with a woman was an insult.
Sounding stern, she said, “Gentleman, I suppose a demonstration is in order.”
There was no response from the men.
“We are standing in unsecured territory. Jade Warriors treat unsecured territory as if it was hostile territory. We assume there are enemies everywhere. Now, you are to treat this as unsecured territory!”
The men just stood there looking at her. She stared back at them stone faced.
Suddenly, there was a roar of gunfire originating from right behind the forty eight men. Each of them felt something slam into their backs. Convinced that they had been shot, half of the men fell to the ground. The others spun around to stare open mouthed at the twelve people standing behind them with pistols in their hands. The twelve people were wearing red jogging outfits over their armor. They were impossible to miss.
“Gentlemen! May I have your attention!” she shouted.
Forty-eight pairs of wide open eyes turned to look at her. Hands reached behind their backs seeking, but not finding, wounds. They had been hit by the wadding of the blanks fired at close range. It stung, but it didn’t penetrate.
She said, “A group of Jade Warriors would not have just stood there upon being informed that this was unsecured territory. They would have spread out. Each of them would have faced a different direction than the others. They would examine their surroundings to see if there were any threats in the area. Upon seeing a threat, they would have acted to eliminate it. You did none of those things.
“That gentlemen, is why you are here to be trained. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” a couple of them answered sullenly.
“I didn’t hear you!” she shouted.
The response was quite a bit louder.
“I still didn’t hear you!”
“Yes!” all of them shouted.
“As of this moment, you are cadets in the Jade Force Officer Training School. That means, you have no rank, no authority, and no free-will. When we tell you to do something, you will do it. If you fail to do it, then you will be punished like every other cadet. Is that clear?”
“Facing me, I want you to form twelve ranks and four files, one meter apart.”
Sword Lifa found ordering people into formation a kind of weird thing to be doing. Once past the first year, cadets didn’t form lines. The only reason she knew about rank and file was from reading history. She assumed the terms rank and file were still used.
It wasn’t the most graceful maneuver anyone had seen, but the forty-eight did manage to line up in the desired way. They did manage to get spaced apart as desired. There was a lot of double checking that they didn’t have any wounds while moving.
“Gentlemen, every Jade Warrior has studied military history. We know and understand the various levels of rank for every service in every country. You, on the other hand, know nothing about how we are organized. You need to know this if you are to be around us.
“Jade Force is organized into cadres of expertise. I am a Sword and I am an expert at taking the battle to the enemy. We have Shields. They are experts at defense. We have Carts. They are experts at getting us where we need to be. We have Hearths. They are experts at keeping us healthy. We have Pens who represent us.
“You can see what cadre a Jade Warrior belongs to by looking at the upper right side of his or her armor,” she said. Pointing to the sword on her armor, she said, “As you can see, my sword is clearly visible.
“There are no ranks in our organization. There are ratings in various skills. We wear symbols on the left side of our armor indicating skills in which we have a rating of adequate or above. Each mark beside the symbol tells you how far beyond adequate we are. Ten marks means we are expert in that skill.”
She pointed to the pistol symbol on her armor. She said, “This is my rating for pistol. Adequate means that you can hit the bulls eye ten times in a row from the back of a moving vehicle which is traveling over rough terrain. I am an expert. You never want to discover what I can do with a pistol.”
The time spent in rank and file had given the officers sufficient time to recover their normal sense of superiority. Their confusion at getting shot was turning into indignation and from there, a touch of anger was building. How dare a woman lecture them like that? It was an insult. It was about to get worse.
Sword Lifa pointed at one of the officers and said, “Step forward.”
He stepped forward reluctantly. He had a feeling that he was going to be singled out for something and was concerned what it would be. Two Swords, one male and one female, walked up behind him. Deciding that he was in unsecured territory, he glanced over his shoulder and noticed their approach. The expressions on their faces were neutral. A Hearth, another woman, approached from the front pushing a clothes rack and a box.
“Are you Captain Angotti?”
The man looked at Sword Lifa like she was crazy. He sputtered, “Are you crazy? I’m not going to strip in front of women!”
“I said Strip.”
The two Swords grabbed him by the arms. They marched him to where he was standing in front of everyone. He didn’t go willingly, but their grips on him were too strong to break. They turned him so that he was facing the officers.
“Our standard punishment for a cadet who fails to follow an order is five lashings for the first offense and ten for the second. We double that until the cadet decides it is better to follow an order than it is to refuse. All punishments are public.”
“I protest!” he shouted.
The two Swords turned him so that he was facing away from his fellow officers. The Hearth came over and opened an extendable rod. She applied the five lashes to the backs of his calves. He had prepared for it to be on his back or buttocks and the fact that it was to his calves surprised him. He let out a loud shout of surprise on the first blow, but kept his mouth shut for the next four. He was humiliated. Getting ‘spanked’ like a little child was more degrading than painful.
“He has been punished for refusing to follow an order. His punishment is complete. There are to be no further punishments for that transgression. You are not to make any negative comments to him about the matter.”
The two Swords took him back to where he had been standing.
He slowly removed his clothes, taking his time to hang up his jacket on the provided hangers. He emptied his pockets into a small box that was on the portable clothes rack. He removed his shoes and socks. He stood there defiantly for a second before removing his shirt. He took off his trousers glaring at Sword Lifa the entire time. He stood there in his undershirt and boxers. The bright red lines from his punishment were clearly visible on his calves.
“All of it.”
“Come on! This is not right.”
“I said, remove everything.”
He pulled off his undershirt and then dropped his boxers. Standing there, he asked, “Are you satisfied? Are you enjoying the view?”
“This isn’t a matter of enjoyment. This is a matter of security,” she replied. “Over there is a box with your name on it. Inside are clothes for you to wear while in the Jade Force Officer Training School.”
He went over to the indicated box and dressed. The box had contained a typical gym outfit of shorts, a sweat shirt, socks, and sneakers. It didn’t occur to him to wonder how they had his clothes sizes so accurately.
While he was dressing, Sword Lifa called another officer to the front to strip. He complied rather than suffer the indignity of a public lashing. Soon he had joined Captain Angotti. He faced a little away from the Captain to watch their backs. He didn’t trust these Jade Warriors not to sneak up behind him and shoot him again.
One by one the officers were called to the front. It was a slow process since there was a lot of resentment on their part that translated into a kind of petulant passive resistance to following orders. After one of the officers had dropped everything into the little box, one of the Jade Warriors reached into it and pulled out a miniature camera. She held it up for everyone to see, then dropped it on the ground and crushed it underfoot.
Sword Lifa said, “We take security very seriously. Once you are admitted into the compound, another attempt like that will result in a punishment of death by hanging. If anyone is injured as a result of the attempt, it will be death by impalement. If anyone is killed, it will be death by crucifixion.”
The man whose camera had just been smashed turned pale. He had no doubts that they would actually crucify anyone who caused the death of one of their warriors. No one had warned him that he might get hung trying to sneak a camera into the compound.
After that, two more cameras were destroyed along with two miniature tape recorders. Seeing the remains of the devices on the ground, Captain Angotti decided that maybe these Jade Warriors weren’t doing this out of malice or as an attempt to degrade them. He watched the Jade Warriors a little more closely and noticed that they were always facing slightly different directions when standing together. He realized that it would be impossible to sneak up on a group of them without being noticed.
When everyone had changed clothes, Sword Lifa said, “Everyone back into formation.”
The men were a lot quicker in returning to formation than they had been to get into it originally. They were beginning to get the idea that these people did not fool around. They shouldn’t have been surprised.
Sword Lifa said, “Gentlemen, you should be honored. You will be the first outsiders ever allowed into a Jade Force Fixed Position. Your presence in this facility changes its status from secured to semi-secured. What this means is that we will not shoot first and ask questions later if we observe someone not wearing Jade Armor so long as the person is wearing the clothes we issued to you. You will wear the outfit we have provided for you at all times.
“We take security very seriously. Any attempt to violate or undermine our security, is viewed as an attack. We respond to attacks quickly and decisively. You may get stopped and asked questions if someone feels your behavior is suspicious.
“There are areas that are clearly marked as no trespassing. You will not survive being caught inside one of those areas.”
She stood there for a moment giving them a chance to process her words.
“Please follow me through the gate, one file at a time,” she said turning and heading to the gate.
Now that Captain Angotti had been clued into what was happening around him he took special notice of the activity around and inside the compound. He had seen the towers with the guards in them and the two guards at the front gate. He assumed that was all that was guarding the compound. Now that he was inside, he saw that there were more guards scattered around the grounds. No one entering through the gate escaped a quick once over from the interior guards. Even birds flying over the fence caught their attention. He had never seen so many alert people in one place. Everyone of the Jade Warriors, as far as he could tell, was watching their surroundings.
He watched a Jade Warrior exit the building, stop to talk to one of the Jade Warriors standing around, and then take up a position to watch the area. Another Jade Warrior, not the one that the first Jade Warrior had talked with, walked away from his spot and entered the building. If this was a shift change, it was a very informal one.
It took a little while for him to realize that there was a constant shifting of where people were standing watch. There was no apparent pattern to their movements. One might go up a guard tower and another one would climb down to move two thirds of the way around the wall. It was as if no one was staying in one place too long so as to get complacent. He noticed that the most of the people guarding the area had a Shield on their armor, although there was an occasional Sword thrown into the mix.
His attention returned to his situation when Sword Lifa said, “We will take you inside the building where you will be staying and training. After you have visited your assigned room, you can exit this building on the other side where we are currently performing our calisthenics. If you are interested in exercises, please form a group off to the side of the Jade Warriors. If you aren’t interested in exercise, you can watch from inside the building.”
Before entering the building, he turned to look at the court yard where they had been. He noticed that the gates had been closed. With the closing of the gates, the number of people guarding the area shrank. He had seen or heard nothing to indicate that orders had been given.
“Do you have a question?” a voice asked from his side.
Surprised, he turned to see who was talking to him. It was a woman with a Shield on her armor.
“I was noticing the shift change. It seems pretty complicated,” he said.