Chapter 399 The petition
In the command post, Zhou Yinglong said earnestly to Zhang Xiaoman, “I just handed in the battle report yesterday, and the commander has already issued a commendation for you today. Things really move quickly during wartime. This shows that the commander values you a lot.”
Zhang Xiaoman looked overwhelmed. “What did Commander say?”
“So, your current rank is half a rank above your appointment, but due to the Razor Sharp Company being a reinforced company and even though your pay had been increased, your responsibilities remained unchanged.” Zhou Yinglong said, “You’ve made another big contribution this time, so the Personnel Division is already preparing talks with you….”
Upon hearing this, Zhang Xiaoman knew what was going on. “I’m not leaving the Razor Sharp Company!”
Zhou Yinglong was stunned. “This is a good thing. Why’re you unhappy?”
“Right now, the Razor Sharp Company is in the midst of a tough battle. What does it say if I, the company commander, leave at such a time? Even if I get transferred, it’ll have to be at the end of the war!” Zhang Xiaoman raised his voice and shouted.
“What are you yelling for?” Zhou Yinglong got unhappy. “I was just trying to hear your opinion. It’s a good thing to begin with, but look at what you’re making it out to be.”
“Battalion Commander, do you want me to open up a space for Ren Xiaosu? If that’s the case, that’s fine too. You’ll just have to let me remain a soldier in the Razor Sharp Company.” Zhang Xiaoman said, “I’m willing to let him take over as company commander, but I won’t leave the Razor Sharp Company.”
Zhou Yinglong’s temper went away. People like Zhang Xiaoman, who was unwilling to be promoted and would rather get demoted than leave the company, probably only existed among the troops of Fortress 178.
However, Zhou Yinglong said, “Then you can just stay and continue being the commander of the Razor Sharp Company. This matter has nothing to do with Ren Xiaosu. The commendation has already been given, and the entire company will receive the third-class unit citation, except for him.”
“Why?” Zhang Xiaoman was shocked. “Just because he was selected by the commander, that’s why he’s being treated so harshly?”.
Zhang Xiaoman was shocked. He had thought he was going to be transferred to make space for Ren Xiaosu, even though he did not think Ren Xiaosu would be promoted so soon. But it turned out that Ren Xiaosu was the only one who would not receive a medal.
“Enough, we can’t figure out the commander’s thoughts. You should go back first. The award ceremony will be held tonight.” Zhou Yinglong waved him off.
Zhang Xiaoman returned to his company looking out of sorts. He continued to lead everyone in their exercise and training, but everyone could tell that Zhang Xiaoman had something on his mind.
“Captain, did the battalion commander lecture you?” Jiao Xiaochen asked. “I feel like you have something on your mind.”
Zhang Xiaoman said, “The commander’s decided to give each of us the third-class unit citation because we took Mt. Dingyuan and Mt. Guan successfully.”
“That’s great.” Jiao Xiaochen was overjoyed. “Maybe everyone in our Razor Sharp Company will even get promoted to officers after the war is over.”
“What’s so good about that?” Zhang Xiaoman said, “Only Ren Xiaosu did not get commended and won’t receive the third-class medal.”
Everyone was surprised. “Why? Even if Ren Xiaosu did not mention anything about himself in the report, he should still get the award if the rest of the company’s also getting it. Could there be some problems with the report? Why don’t we get the battalion commander to write a new one?”
“Yes, let’s go look for the commander! This is
“Ren Xiaosu risked his life to complete the company’s mission. No one else could’ve climbed the back of that mountain, right? Even if any of us could’ve climbed that mountain, we might not have caused much damage to the bandit lair.” Jiao Xiaochen said angrily, “Winning this battle should have been his credit in the first place!”
Everyone looked at Ren Xiaosu. However, Ren Xiaosu just smiled and said, “It’s alright. It’s pretty useless to me even if I were given an award. There’s no need to go to the commander on my behalf. Didn’t you all say that obedience is our soldierly duty? Let’s leave it to the higher-ups to decide however they want. We just need to listen to our orders.”
Zhang Xiaoman said in exasperation, “You need to fight for what you deserve too!”
“Why should I?” Ren Xiaosu laughed and continued running. “Hurry up and run, or we won’t make it in time for dinner.”
Everyone looked at one another, not knowing what to say.
As the night’s award ceremony was quite important, the forward operating base had organized it as a pep rally to motivate the soldiers.
However, Zhang Xiaoman started addressing all of the Razor Sharp Company’s soldiers except for Ren Xiaosu. “Listen up, all of you. Writing this jointly signed petition is an act of insubordination. If the commander gets upset, I’m afraid that every one of us here will no longer have a future in the military.”
“I don’t believe that the commander is that kind of person. He’s definitely open to suggestions.” Jiao Xiaochen said. “Anyway, I’m gonna sign it. We have to make sure that Ren Xiaosu gets recognized for his contributions. If Ren Xiaosu does not want to fight for it, we’ll fight for it on his behalf.”
Zhang Xiaoman said, “Alright, I’ll write it, then all of you can sign it!”
The group of gruff men lowered their heads and pondered how to write the petition. It was really difficult for them.
Zhang Jinglin arrived at the forward operating base and was having a meeting with all the commanders of the fighting forces. Just as they were about to discuss how to cross the Beiwan River at the front line, an orderly came inside and whispered to him, “The officers from the Razor Sharp Company are all here. They said they’re representing the entire Razor Sharp Company in submitting a petition.”
Zhang Jinglin smiled and said, “Didn’t I already say they would be given the third-class unit citation? What are they petitioning about? Let them in.”
The other commanders whispered, “Commander, should we go outside?”
“No need.” Zhang Jinglin shook his head. “Let’s listen to what our men from the Razor Sharp Company have to petition about.”
Zhang Xiaoman, Jiao Xiaochen, and the other officers were brought into the command post tent. Zhang Jinglin smiled and said, “Tell me, what do the men of the hour who got us our first victory in the opening battles want to petition about?”
“This is our petition.” Zhang Xiaoman handed a crumpled piece of paper to Zhang Jinglin. “We just feel that Ren Xiaosu’s been treated unfairly. We would like to resubmit our battle report. He should be the one credited for winning this battle.”
“Oh.” Zhang Jinglin nodded as he read the petition. The petition was even signed by all the soldiers of the Razor Sharp Company. He said, “Do you mean to say you all fabricated the battle report, and that you two, Zhang Xiaoman and Jiao Xiaochen, have falsely claimed credit for the war contribution?”
Zhang Xiaoman said through his teeth, “Even if Commander wants to punish us, we’ll still admit to it. However, Ren Xiaosu really contributed to the victory. You can’t give all of us the third-class unit citation but forget about him. Isn’t that as good as a slap to the face?”
Zhang Jinglin said calmly, “Let’s look at the facts without any bias. Fabricating the battle report, condemning the military from within, and falsely claiming credit for war contributions—these actions will subject you to be revoked of your third-class unit citation. It’s no exception even if you were all men of the hour. As for Ren Xiaosu, I already knew about it.”
Zhang Xiaoman and the others were stunned. What did he mean by he already knew about it?
After that, they were led out of the tent by the orderly. Zhang Jinglin slid the petition to the other commanders with a smile. “Everyone, have a read.”
Zhou Yinglong was seated at the end of the line. He thought to himself, ‘Commander Zhang clearly looks like he’s in a great mood.’ By showing the petition to the other commanders, he was obviously trying to tell them what Ren Xiaosu, his chosen candidate, had contributed to the war.
As a soldier who had just joined the company, what had he done to deserve his comrades giving up their third-class citation just so they could petition on his behalf?
Ren Xiaosu was far more endearing to the Razor Sharp Company than they had imagined.
If you were a beam of light, you would eventually encounter other beams of light behind a dark thundercloud.