Moving Forward

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Moving Forward Stories of Afternoon
RI Operator icon.png
Instructor Grace
RI Training Compound
RI Room
Fen[sic] goes to Dobermann's room with Beagle and Kroos and accidentally discovers some faded tags.
Dobermann rarely talks about the past, but she seems interested today.
<Background 1>
10:21 AM Rhodes Island Training Ground
Fang This is it!
Instructor Grace Too slow!
Fang Shit!
Instructor Grace That's enough for today.
Fang Phew....
Instructor Grace Not bad, Fang. You blocked it this time.
I'm glad to see you getting more flexible.
Fang Yeah, it's what Instructor Dobermann taught me. Not just about footwork, but about adjusting my speed. I think I'm starting to get the hang of it!
Instructor Grace Right. You have your natural Kuranta speed. It's good for quick attacks, but those aren't worth anything if the enemy blocks them and you have no counter.
Anyway, you passed this field exercise.
Fang Thanks, Instructor Grace!
Instructor Grace But the next one will be even harder.
Fang I'll be ready!
Instructor Grace That's the spirit.
Beagle Fang~
Fang Beagle, did you finish your test? How did it go?
Beagle Aw, I didn't pass.... Instructor Fallon has some real sneaky tricks...
Fang Don't get discouraged. You'll get 'em next time.
Beagle How about you? Did you pass?
Fang Yeah.
Beagle Nice...
Kroos Aww, my butt...
Beagle Kroos, are you okay?
Kroos Instructor Tess shot my patootie...
Beagle Huh?
Kroos The test was a sniper war between me and Instructor Tess. We had to hide and find each other. I still don't know how she got behind me!
Instructor Grace Hahahahahaha!
Kroos Don't laugh at me, Uncle Grace!
Instructor Grace I'll tell you, you got really unlucky. The other sniping instructors just happen to be out for a few days and you got stuck with Tess.
Even I can't keep track of that phantom. My advice is you put the same effort into finding a sniper nest that you do into finding places to nap.
Kroos Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up.
I just checked on Hibiscus and Lava. Lava passed, but Hibiscus didn't. They went home already. How did you do?
Beagle Fang passed.
Kroos Aw, Fang, you traitor!
Fang Why am I a traitor?
Beagle Ugh, I failed again. What is wrong with me...?
Fang Don't be discouraged, Beagle, we still have plenty of chances.
Kroos Yeah, it's just a quiz. Nothing to be too upset about. And we still have hell this afternoon.
Instructor Grace Haha, that's right. Dobermann let us do your individual tests this morning. But the afternoon group field test? That's all her.
Kroos *Sigh* Please. I can already imagine the look on Instructor Dobermann's face when she sees my test results.
Instructor Grace Now you're sorry?
Kroos No. Instructor Dobermann said we could go at our own pace. I'm just a late bloomer!
Instructor Grace Hah hah.
Beagle But I'm also worried she'll be disappointed in us...
Fang Beagle, Kroos.....
Instructor Grace Okay, seriously, don't be too hard on yourselves. We didn't make these tests so you could pass them. They're there to tell us what to work on.
Kroos Wow. It feels awful when a guy tells you straight to your face that he's better than you. And you can't even do anything about it!
Instructor Grace It's the truth. There's a huge skill gap between you trainees and us instructors.
That's why we're your teachers. That's what we're here for.
And even if you haven't noticed it yourselves, you've made huge strides since you came to Rhodes Island.
Fang ...He's right.
Beagle Yeah... I guess he is.
Instructor Grace And really, you girls are doing great. The instructors you went up against are all experts in your respective fields.
Do you have any idea how we got where we are? What we've been through?
Kroos No way...
Instructor Grace Yes. Dobermann alone trained us.
Hard to believe as it may be, Dobermann today is a hundred times softer than she used to be.
Kroos Huh? Are we talking about the same Dobermann? She's soft?
That's not funny, Uncle Grace.
Instructor Grace I'm not kidding.
<Background fades out and in>
<Flashback starts here>
Dobermann Grace! My abuela[note 1] runs up a mountain with a pack twice that size! You really can't handle some light jogging?
Fallon, you want the enemy to die laughing? Is that what you're going for with these clumsy slapstick attacks?
Tess, you falling asleep on me? Hold your gun straight! Don't let me out of your sights!
Viktor, the enemy doesn't give water breaks!
Leah, let's have you learn some basic first aid before you try healing Arts. This bandage work is as much of a mess as you are.
We're done for the day. Give me ten laps around the training room! You hear me?
Everyone Sir, yes, sir!
Dobermann I can't hear you!
Everyone SIR, YES, SIR!
<Flashback ends here>
<Background fades out and in>
Kroos That bad, huh?
Instructor Grace The point is still that Dobermann may not be the strongest fighter herself.... Hey, I'll toot my own horn and say I've got a 50/50 shot against her at this point.
Kroos Come on, cut the crap.
Instructor Grace Hey, a little self-confidence is good for the soul.
Anyway, Dobermann may not be the strongest fighter around, but the tactics and strategies she pulled out of her time with the Bolívarian army are overpowering.
Fang Bolívar....?
Instructor Grace Yeah. Like the "Bolívarian Civil War" you see on the news. That Bolívar. We all wonder exactly how Dobermann got to be as great as she is, but she never talks that much about her time in Bolívar.
Anyway, at the time, Rhodes Island was just getting going, and they really needed some talent. Then, how do I put this...
Dobermann was a real soldier back then.
Beagle What does that mean?
Instructor Grace Like, we're all pretty awesome here at Rhodes Island, but our overall atmosphere is still really relaxed, right? We get to have our own lives.
Okay, let me put it this way. If you were with us back then, Kroos, you'd never end up napping in a utility closet. The thought wouldn't even cross your mind.
Kroos Huh? That sounds like hell.
Instructor Grace You get what I'm saying? Dobermann's way different now.
Fang Really. It's hard to imagine the person Instructor Grace is talking about is our Instructor Dobermann.
Beagle Yeah... Dobermann works us hard, and she's kind of scary, but once you get to know her, you can tell she really cares about us.
Instructor Grace She always really cared about people. Even back then.
It's just, sometimes, what you do means more than why you do it.
All right, that's enough chatting for now. You girls pack up, go take a shower, have lunch, and get ready for the group training this afternoon.
Fang What about you?
Instructor Grace Me? I'm going to gather up the other teachers and we'll take your test results to Dobermann.
Fang Oh, I can do that for you.
Instructor Grace Really? You can?
Fang Sure. We'll pass Instructor Dobermann's room on the way to the cafeteria.
Beagle Oh. I'll go too.
Kroos Um, I'll pass. I'm in no hurry to see Instructor Dobermann.
Instructor Grace Thanks a lot, ladies.
Oh, and uh, don't tell Dobermann what I just told you. Ever.
<Background 2>
Beagle Instructor Dobermann!
Dobermann Oh? What are you two doing here?
Fang We're bringing you some test results, and I guess some other information from Instructor Grace.
I passed!
Dobermann Let's see here... Oh, good.
The others.... Kroos, Beagle, and Hibiscus didn't pass. Did Lava?
Beagle Sorry....
Dobermann It's okay, you're making progress.
Go on back and tell Kroos to be ready for this afternoon.
Beagle Ahahahaha.
Dobermann Go on. Rest up.
Beagle Okay!
Fang Hey, Instructor Dobermann, are you cleaning your room?
Dobermann Yes. I do so regularly.
Fang Can I help you?
Dobermann Huh? Why?
Fang Um. Sometimes you want to give back to your teacher, you know?
Beagle Oh, I'll help too!
Dobermann ........
Fang Er, unless we'd get in the way?
Dobermann ...No, not at all. I'm just a little surprised. I thought you were scared of me.
Fang No way! I have a lot of respect for you, Instructor.
Beagle Me too!
Dobermann All right. I'll take the help. Thanks.
Fang & Beagle Okay!
<Background fades out and in>
Beagle There's a lot more stuff in here than I expected...
Dobermann Oh? Is that odd?
Beagle No. I just always thought of you as an instructor with a tidy room, the type who wouldn't keep a lot of stuff.
Dobermann ....I really didn't bring much with me when I first came to Rhodes Island.
But I've been living here for a few years now.
Fang Oh, right. Instructor Dobermann joined Rhodes Island a long time ago?
Dobermann Yes, compared to most operators. It's been a while.
Fang Why did you join up, Instructor?
Dobermann ........
Fang Oh, sorry. Is that a bad question?
Dobermann No. It's just, now's not the time. We'll talk about it later.
Beagle Okay.
Dobermann Are you curious too?
Beagle Eh? Yes... I am! I really want to know more about you, Instructor.
Dobermann Know more about me... huh?
<Background fades out and in>
Fang Might as well start on the wardrobe...
Hey, Instructor Dobermann, is this a uniform?
Dobermann Huh? Yes.
It's a souvenir I kept from my time in the Army.
Beagle Wow, it's very cool.
Fang It is.... So which side did you fight on?
Dobermann You know a bit about Bolívar, huh?
And don't I remember that Beagle is also of Bolívarian origin? You immigrated to Columbia, is that right?
Beagle Yes, but I've only heard about Bolívar from my parents. I'd love to hear more about it.
Oh, but it's not like I just came because...
Dobermann Relax. Even if you did, it's okay.
Come help me with the bedding.
Beagle Okay!
Dobermann There we go. Thanks.
There are currently three factions in Bolívar. The nominal, official government is a puppet controlled by Leithanien, since they led the forces that won the war against Columbia.
Then the Autonomous Government resulted from a parliamentary split. They've been looking for a chance to seize power. They're well-funded, and offer a challenge to the puppet government.
Last, we have the Bolívarian Resistance, an uprising made up of ordinary people fed up with the struggles of the powerful.
I served the Autonomous Government, at the rank of colonel.
Beagle Wow, a colonel! Instructor Dobermann is awesome!
Fang That's a high rank.
Dobermann .....Yes. It is.
<Background fades out and in>
Beagle I'll wipe down the top of the wardrobe. There must be lots of dust up there.
Oops, something fell down?
Fang It's... a bunch of metal tags?
Beagle Huh?
Dobermann These are.... name plates.
Fang Name plates? Like the ID cards we have at Rhodes Island?
Dobermann Yes. Soldiers in the army get these plates issued with their name and unit number, for identification.
Beagle Ah, really.
Can I see them?
Dobermann Take a look.
Beagle A... lan. Ju..... an. Jo.... se. I can read the names, but I can't make sense of these abbreviations...
Dobermann Those indicate some things about the units they served in. Don't worry about them.
Fang If you have their name plates, does that mean they're...
Dobermann Yes. They're all dead.
Beagle Oh. So, were, were they important people to you?
Dobermann Important...?
<Background black>
??? Colonel, your men died bravely.
Don't grieve for them. Their deaths have saved my career, and yours. You won't be reprimanded by the brass.
An investigation? No one will remember these things.
The truth? Colonel, people need pretty, or at least decent results. They don't care about the truth.
Colonel, remember your place. And don't forget who it was who raised you up from a common soldier to the command you hold today!
<Background 2>
Dobermann I didn't know them well. We barely spoke.
But yes. They are important to me.
Fang Huh?
Dobermann ........We're just about done cleaning. Come here.
Beagle Um, did I do something wrong, Instructor?
Dobermann No. I wasn't trying to hide them. That's why they were just kind of left up there.
But your questions got me thinking. So I want to talk to you two.
Fang Oh, well, I'm honored!
Dobermann Relax. Just have a seat.
I will tell you about my past at some point, but not now.
For now, I just want to ask you a question.
What do you think is the defining characteristic of a soldier?
Fang Ah? Is this... a test?
Dobermann No. There are no wrong answers.
Beagle Phew.
Fang Let's see, um.... combat proficiency?
Dobermann Most people learn to fight. The operators here all do, and you two will. It's not something unique.
Beagle Is it being able to use some kind of awesome weapon?
Dobermann It's true that many manufactured weapons are readily accessible to the military....
But as you've seen here at Rhodes Island, there's always people who have other ways of acquiring such things.
Fang There's a lot of them?
Dobermann Yes.... That is a big one, the military usually has a numerical advantage unmatched by civilian organizations.
Rhodes Island today can only compare the standing army of maybe a backwater nomadic city in a small country.
Beagle Whaa? I thought Rhodes Island was really powerful...
Dobermann For a non-governmental organization, Rhodes Island has done very well for itself. But we couldn't dream of challenging a state.
Beagle But we have such amazing operators. Like Skyfire, she goes "swoosh" with her staff and everything goes "fwoom!"
Fang But there's only so much you can do in the face of an overwhelming numbers.
Do you remember Gus, from the garrison? He was the toughest guy there by far, but if a dozen men ganged up on him...
Dobermann Exactly. Numbers change the calculation even for a mediocre combatant. One Beagle couldn't take on Skyfire. But what about ten, or a hundred Beagles? Think about it.
Beagle A– a hundred mes? We– we could crush Skyfire...
Sorry, Skyfire....
Dobermann Heh. Exactly. The number of times a lone individual has used her individual strength to influence warfare on a national scale is zero. In the entire recorded history of human conflict.
Anyway.... To digress a little, there's a reason I haven't been systematically explaining the Army to you in your prep courses. There's just no value to it.
My greatest hope is that you'll never have a chance to apply any of this knowledge. This little lesson here is completely voluntary.
Fang So numbers aren't the answer either?
Dobermann Well, it's an answer, but it's more of a descriptor of the military itself, rather than a soldier.
Fang Hmmm....
Beagle Um. Is it following orders?
Dobermann What makes you say that?
Beagle I just thought back to our time at the garrison. The captain said that as a soldier, you have to follow orders no matter what.
Dobermann Correct.
Beagle Huh? I got it right!
Dobermann You did. The defining characteristic of a soldier is obedience to the chain of command.
There's a saying: the best soldier is one who can't think. An army does not need soldiers to think. Only to follow orders.
Beagle But isn't that kind of cruel?
Dobermann War is cruel. And if you must engage in it, giving up thought could be a kind of relief.
Beagle But....
Dobermann Isn't it cruel that you have these questions at all? Aren't soldiers human?
Obviously, a soldier is not a machine. He comes closer to death than anyone, and he knows better than anyone exactly what it is he is facing.
Can a soldier still muster up morale when he knows he's carrying out an incredibly stupid order?
Fang I think... no?
Dobermann Of course not. So when faced with such a situation, you have two choices. Do you know what they are?
Fang & Beagle ...No.
Dobermann One is to prevent the soldier from noticing the order is incredibly stupid.
But that's difficult. The men on the front lines know exactly what kind of danger they are facing. You can't fool them.
If you could, you could've made a better choice.
And that other choice is to just issue the correct orders.
Fang Huh?
Dobermann It may sound a bit silly, but it's the truth. How else do you get a soldier to surrender his inclination to question orders?
How do you get him to relax, and trust in his command?
It's simple. Just issue convincing, correct orders from the beginning.
But not everyone makes the right choice.
After leaving the Autonomous Government, I moved to join the Resistance. But in the end I left. Because it wasn't any different there.
Beagle Woah. Instructor Dobermann even joined the Resistance?!
Dobermann Yes. There's a picture in the second drawer under the wardrobe. Take a look
Beagle Wowww. You looked so cool back then, Instructor.
Fang I wanna see!
Woah. She did!
Dobermann Put it back when you're done.
Things didn't go well there either. And eventually I left Bolívar and came to Rhodes Island.
My expectations were low.
But I was pleasantly surprised.
A soldier knows when he's been given a stupid order, but he may not know what to do about it.
That's another reason you need the right orders.
And Rhodes Island provides those.
Beagle (whispering) Fang, do you get what she's talking about?
Fang (whispering) Kinda...
Dobermann Don't worry about it too much. It's just me waxing philosophical.
The main point here is you could stand to appreciate Rhodes Island a bit more.
You can safely give yourselves to Rhodes Island. Even if you don't think about what you're fighting for, you won't lose anything.
There's an age old question: If we know we have to move forward, but forward is always in front of us, how do we know which way to move?
There's no answer to that question. But you can at least trust in Rhodes Island when they tell you which way is forward. You can't go wrong moving that way.
Fang Trust in Rhodes Island.... I think... I think I get what you're trying to tell us.
Beagle Yeah. Basically, Rhodes Island is a good place?
Dobermann ........Heh heh. Yeah. That's about it.
It's an pie-in-the-sky paradise that a few idealists are desperately trying to keep going, for the sake of a little hope.
Beagle I know Rhodes Island is good... But is it really that good...?
Dobermann Heh heh. It might take a while for you girls to realize it.
All right, that's enough cleaning and chattering. It's time for you two to get some chow.
Beagle Ah! Oh no! It's almost 1!
Dobermann Yep. Thanks for helping me clean up. You have something to eat. I'll be right along.
Fang Okay, thanks for the lesson, Instructor Dobermann. I need some time to digest it.
Beagle Me too!
Dobermann Don't take it too seriously.
Also, I changed my mind. I think I might put this on one of my tests.
And if you two feed me back exactly what I just said, you get a zero.
Beagle Aaaaagh! No way!
Fang I– I'll think very carefully about it! Thanks again for your lesson today, Instructor!
[Beagle and Fang leaves.]
<Background fades out and in>
Dobermann ........
Instructor, huh.
Somehow, I'm getting used to teaching.
I've had many students, some of whom have long surpassed me. And others have bright futures.
I've found a new purpose in Rhodes Island. And I'm willing to believe in the future that Amiya and Dr. Kal'tsit have painted for me, but....
My roots are still in Bolívar.
I'll go back, someday, and see for myself.


  1. "Grandmother" in Spanish