1. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    officer training

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by nippy818, Dec 23, 2015.

    So, I am currently working on my second novel and have come to a dilemma. I want to show the brutality and absoluteness of the Agency. I have one of my MCs in officer training. Each cadet is given a puppy at the beginning of the training. They are required to raise it and train it to the standards that are put down. To graduate, the cadet has to show absolute loyalty to the agency and are ordered to kill the dog they raised and shared so much time with. The other reason behind this is they show they will be willing to order the men and women under them into a situation that may not be survivable. As I said in book 1 60% casualties is a good day and 90% is acceptable as long as the battle is won. My mc is going to struggle with this, and it shapes her into a person that is strong but resents the how cheap life is to the Agency. What I want to know, is killing the dog going to lose all sympathy for the character and if so, is it regain-able.
     
  2. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I should probably add, the cadets are not told of this requirement till they are ordered to do so.
     
  3. oTTo
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    oTTo Member

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    You have seen Kingsman right? Because... this is straight out of it.

    How it was handled there is the old switcher-o. Your cadets are never given live ammo, they have no idea the pistol is loaded with blanks when ordered to kill their loyal companions. Pull the trigger agent. It is your duty.
     
  4. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I have not seen it. I was basing this off the training in the Waffen SS and, no blanks, live rounds.
     
  5. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Sounds like some people would and others wouldn't. People who believe that the environment can greatly influence morality (for example, the Milgram experiment which is mentioned in probably all first-year psych) or people who've had to do things they wouldn't normally do, like in sales, would probably be more forgiving. Among dog owners and those who think they always act in line with their stated morality, the sympathy would likely drop off, not that there's any absolutes. My opinion is that the silence to this question is because no one really wants to speak for anyone else -- it'd just be a vote.
     
  6. oTTo
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    oTTo Member

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    @nippy818 I hadn't known that. As a veteran I feel it is the duty aspect that overpowers the will. A soldier should know when something is purely wrong and should be disobeyed, there should always be people in positions to question the orders when needed, but an agent... charged with undergoing the deep stress of world saving and such...I would hope would control emotion, utilize logic and sound rationality to determine the best course of action. Reading emotional quandary would only make me question the will to kill, the will to obey, the will to die. If the pup is a companion, but the agent already knows that in their life it will not be an easy work around to keep a pet while in the field for a long duration, maybe not having had a pet prior and thus only just creating the attachment, I would expect the agent to fire. If the agent cannot control emotion, or has throughout training displayed lacking characteristics, I would expect the agent to disobey and drop their weapon, thusly quitting. A life is a life, but the life of a human... if the agent can kill humans but not a dog... how can they save the world? How can they handle the pressure of a greater need to kill or let die?
     
  7. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I see exactly what you are saying. I think anything along those lines will probably split people. Thank you

    That is a great point to bring up. I will continue my course based on that argument alone. If the MC wants the position she has to play by the rules, no matter how difficult, and if she does not, she has the option of walking from the order.
     
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  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I don't think that your character would lose sympathy, if they show some quality that they did it with some form of reluctance. Though as was already stated, if you can kill a human, then why not a dog.

    This topic sort of reminds me of the movie Soldier. Raised since birth to be 100% desensitized, loyal killing machines. The part I find particularly similar to a small degree with your topic, is when the boys are on a run during their training (boys as in 10-12 years old). There is one who is behind the rest, so the officer overseeing their training executes the straggler.

    So why stop at a dog? When you could raise the stakes to say a parent, or other person with close ties to the MC. That would far more impactful in the way of proving complete obedience and loyalty. Humans invest more time and resources on improving the efficiency of how they kill each other. Not out of necessity or survival, but simply because humans are destructive in nature. One could say inhumanity is human nature. Call it our species past time, and not much has changed except our abilities to exact it to greater effect.
     
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  9. oTTo
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    oTTo Member

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    @Cave Troll on point.

    Imagine that. MC enters a room, the same room used for training, and tied to a chair is their father or mother or sibling. A room full of armed men, the MC has to execute their loved one, unmasked themselves to ensure eye contact and pleading. Imagine that defiance. Is the organizations resolve that much? Is the cause that much that family is second? How far down the hole can you go, do you go. What barriers do you break to get control? Submission or devotion? Which is it?

    So yea, no matter what you do the MC has a conflict in just this single moment. It decides their fate really.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Other than the timing of including this part in your story (as mentioned, Kingsmen recently hit the screens and included this element), my question becomes: How secret is "the Agency"?

    In your description in the OP, I'm not sure if we are dealing with a secret society type deal (Kingsmen) or a larger military structure. If the latter, it may be difficult for your world to keep this little secret about the dogs. I was well prepped when I went to basic training in the late 80's. I come from a military family, lived my whole life on military bases. I knew what was coming. It was clearly explained to me that basic is not about weeding out the weak. It's about weeding out those who cannot work as a team. Do some not make it because of simple weakness? Sure, of course, but that's not the driving force behind the dynamic. I knew this and everything else that I was going to be asked to do well in advance because there's no reason that those who have finished basic cannot tell you about it. It's not a secret that you are asked to keep, and frankly, given that every single enlisted person has to go through the process, it's not realistic that it could be kept a secret.

    The job I ended up doing was a job that required a security clearance. We worked in SCIF's, sometimes called "vaults", and the things we learned were absolutely secret and can never be mentioned to anyone. But at this point in the game, we were a tiny fraction of everyone who initially passes through basic training and all of this took place in a school that itself functioned within a SCIF, for obvious reasons.

    So, how big is your organization? The bigger it is, the less plausible it becomes that the officer candidates would not know what was coming.
     
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  11. oTTo
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    @Wreybies Right on brother.

    I didn't even consider that. Who has conducted courses in the training? A team or a single person? Teams would have banter, trickery, witty remarks, and otherwise be drill instructors (mine had a great time with us and I love them for everything they did for me). The cadets are bleh, they are not what the authority wants yet, hence the cadet-hood. Everyone needs to be broken of useless civilian habits before commencing in dedicated operations.

    I hope this is all constructive. It has gotten me thinking.
     
  12. ShannonH
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    ShannonH Senior Member Supporter

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    This is also a seen in ASOIAF. Part of the training of the Unsullied soldiers.

    Not sure if that's an issue for you or not, just pointing out what it reminded me of.
     
  13. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    To add a bit of dark humor to this dark topic. Here is George Carlin's Sanctity of life routine. I feel that it is an appropriate way of looking at this subject. :p



    "But you know, the longer you listen to this abortion debate, the more you hear this phrase 'sanctity of life.'" You've heard that, 'sanctity of life.'" You believe in it? Personally, I think it's a bunch of shit. Well I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death, has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians, all taking turns killing each other because God told them it was a good idea. The sword of God, the blood of the lamb, vengeance is mine, millions of dead motherfuckers, all because they gave the wrong answer to the God question.

    'You believe in God?'

    'No.'

    *BANG* Dead.

    'You believe in God?'

    'Yes.'

    'You believe in my God?'

    'No.'

    *Bang* Dead.

    'My God has a bigger dick than your God!' That's how it is, isn't it? Thousands of years, and all the best wars too, the bloodiest, most brutal wars fought all based on religious hatred, which is fine with me. Anytime a bunch of holy people want to kill each other, I'm a happy guy. But don't be giving me all this shit about the sanctity of life. I mean, even if there were such a thing, I don't think it's something you can blame on God. No, you know where the sanctity of life came from? We made it up! You know why? Cause we're alive! Self-interest. Living people have a strong interest in promoting the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don't see Abbott and Costello running around, talking about this shit, do you? We're not hearing a whole lot from Mussolini on the subject. What's the latest from JFK? Not a god damned thing, cause JFK, Mussolini, and Abbott and Costello are fucking dead. They're fucking dead, and dead people give less than a shit about the sanctity of life. Only living people care about it, so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It's a self-serving, man-made bullshit story. It's one of these things we tell ourselves so we'll feel noble. Life is sacred, makes you feel noble.

    Well let me ask you this, if everything that ever lived is dead, and everything alive is going to die, where does the sacred part come in? I'm having trouble with that. Because even with the stuff we preach about the sanctity of life, we don't practice it. Look at what we kill. Mosquitoes and flies, because they're pests! Lions and tigers, because it's fun! Chickens and pigs, because we're hungry. Pheasants and quail, because it's fun, and we're hungry. And people! We kill people, because they're pests... and it's fun!

    And you might have noticed something else, the sanctity of life doesn't seem to apply to cancer cells, does it? You never see a bumper sticker that says 'save the tumors' or 'I brake for advanced melanoma.' No, viruses, mold, mildew, maggots, fungus, weeds, e. coli bacteria, the crabs, nothing sacred about those things. So at best, the sanctity of life is kind of a selective thing. We get to choose which forms of life we feel are sacred, and we get to kill the rest. Pretty neat deal, huh? You know how we got it? We made the whole fucking thing up! Made it up, the same way we made up the death penalty. We made them both up, the sanctity of life and the death penalty. Aren't we versatile?!"
     
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  14. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    The Agency is a large organization that maintains peace in a large solar system. They take some recruits but most of the Agents are designed in labs and born through surrogates. The vast majority of infractions are punishable by firing squad. Keeping it a secret wouldn't be too much of an issue.
     
  15. Aster
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    To answer your original question, whether or not the reader will lose all sympathy with the main character is not down to the act of killing the dog or not. It's in how she reacts to it and how it impacts on her or does not impact on her. It will be in how she behaves for the rest of the story.

    But yes it is very hard to empathize with someone who discards everything that makes them human just to "maintain peace". Be interesting to see how you write it.
     

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