“Hello soldiers of Second Platoon. I have met a few of you, and the rest I shall get to know over the coming days and months. You most likely all know me, Lady Demetria Kestel. While I am more used to wearing a dress than carrying a rifle, I have to do my duty like everyone else.

“Now, on to business. Our Platoon will be accompanying Ingot Company of the 12th Cavalry Regiment. We are going to be the tip of the spear for the assault. The rest of the company and 202nd will be with the rest of the 12th Cav behind us. More units like us will be moving in all along the front. Our attack is tomorrow at Dawn. This will be tough. Many of you will die. But remember. If you die, you will die with honor. And I will be honored to die by your side. So let us kill as many of those Vledscan Bastards as we can.

“From what I have learned about your platoon, it seems like you are more than up for the task. I have a feeling though, that these next few days will be a trying time. But as I said before, we will gain honor and glory. We will fight or die.

“And finally, for administrative purposes, I shall be keeping Private Clark as my runner. I will have a meeting with the Sergeants in an hour. Before that, I would like Lance Corporal Evans and Private Cain to meet with me,” the Lieutenant saluted the assembled platoon and stepped down.

Ustinov turned to Evans and Turner, “So don’t worry. While we are all going to die, at least there is someone famous who is dying with us. Real comforting.”

Turner shrugged, “At least she is ready to fight, not like Stoddart with his rocks.”

“She looks like she belongs in a ballroom somewhere,” Ustinov made a gesture to the Lieutenant, “Look at how pale and soft her skin looks. Like she hasn’t left her house until a week ago.”

“Well I have to meet with her,” Evans started walking towards the Lieutenant, “So I’ll tell you all about her.”

When he got to the Lieutenant, Cain was already there. Lieutenant Kestel was sitting down on the hood of an armored car. Evans bowed a little, “Sorry Ma’am, but I do not know to greet Nobility.”

“Well, in a situation as this, you are to kneel on your right knee,” She gestured at Evans to kneel, and he followed. “Next, you bow your head.” Evans did. “Now, since I am a Lady, and you are a man, I extend my hand and you must kiss it.” She held out her hand and Evans kissed it. “I will then tap you on the shoulder and you will rise” She then tapped him on the shoulder and Evans stood up. “That is the entire process. When we are on the front, I don’t expect you to go through this. So the short Lowborn male to a Lady, you should extend your open right hand towards me. Traditionally, I should pull my dress in front of me, but I since I don’t have one, I will simply gesture with my hand.” She demonstrated by pulling he hand in front of her waist, “Like so. When you leave, simply bow. If I approach a group, just stand to attention. I will gesture with my hand as the return.”

“Thank you for showing me Ma’am.”

The Lieutenant nodded, “Now, on to business. I called the two of you here because I want some lower level enlisted advisers. You, Cain, because well, frankly you are from Medway too. And Evans, I pulled some strings and talked to Lieutenant Ricci. You seem like a fine warrior. I want the two of you to report to me what the general feelings of the other enlisted soldiers are. As thanks, I can grant the two of you minor titles in Medway when we are done. Do you understand?”

The two answered in unison, “Yes Lady Demetria.”

“Good. You may leave.”

Evans bowed and Cain curtsied. They then turned about and walked back to the rest of the platoon. Evans looked at Cain, “You look rather starstruck.”

“I grew up reading about the Kestel’s. Hearing about her glamorous life. I used to pretend to be her when I was a little girl. Now… Not only is she my commanding officer, but she trusts me. I’m all flustered and excited, my stomach feels tingly,” Cain smiled and bobbed her head back and forth.

“Really, you, a little girl playing nobility? Not always the smoking, drinking, swearing soldier with a knife in her gut?” Evans laughed, “I can imagine Hunt or Giuliano… Definitely Anna, but not you. Did you wear one of those pointy noblewoman hats?”

She put her hand over her face, “I wore one everyday until secondary school. I only stopped because my parents ‘lost it’”

“I think you should start wearing one again, it would go great with the uniform.”

“Shut up Evans,” Cain hit Evans in the shoulder. She then pulled out a cigarette and lit it.

Tiscornia waved to the two, “So what was your special meeting about?”

Turner laughed, “Are you three going on a noble quest to save Ethslin from a dragon? Should we steal some swords from the Cav officers?”

Newey shook his head, “No no no, Evans must escort the Lady on a pilgrimage through dangerous territory.” He then gestured to Cain, “And they bring along this weird troll thing for some reason.”

Cain shrugged, “I’m the ugly one? Answer this Newey, whose looks were personally insulted by a noble woman? If anything, you’re the hideous troll, I’m the fucking Lady in Waiting or something. The Lady in Waiting who is secretly some badass warrior.”

Chilcott looked at Tiscornia and Giuliano, “So is Liguria as weird about their nobility as Ethslin?”

Tiscornia shrugged, “I can name the Grand Duke, and that’s about it.”

“I’ve met a few Earls when I was younger,” Giuliano smiled, “By met I mean was at some event with them. But yeah, I think I now more about Ethslin nobility than Liguria.”

Newey looked like he was off in his own world, “You are right Turner, we should steal some swords from the Cav officers. Want to join me Cain?”

She shrugged and dropped her cigarette, “I could use a sword.”

The two got up and ran down the line of Armored Cars. Chilcott smiled, “Oh thank God. He needed to get over Stanhope. Maybe he’ll stop hitting on everything that moves.”

“Newey is fucking weird,” Turner picked up Cain’s still burning cigarette and started smoking it.

Head looked up from his flask, “Why can’t someone decide to fuck me?”

“Because we all hate you Head,” Turner took the flask and drunk from it before handing it back to Turner.

“No, like… Not even that whore-y slut Chambers would sleep with me.”

Time seemed to slow down for Evans. He could barely control himself. Evans knocked Head into the side of the Armored Car. He then started punching Head repeatedly in the face, shouting, “SHE WAS MY BEST FRIEND YOU BASTARD!”

Chilcott, Tiscornia, and Pastor were on them quickly and started to pull them apart. Chilcott and Tiscornia held Evans down while Pastor and Turner helped Head up. Pastor then turned to the center, “Alright children, can we calmly explain to me what happened, so I can help us through it.”

Evans whimpered, “Lucy Chambers was my best friend in the company. She was killed a few days ago.”

Turner shrugged, “She also had a reputation for being ‘easy’. She would often, umm… solicit men in the company for sex.”

Pastor nodded slowly, “So… Mister Evans and this Private Chambers were?”

Chilcott shrugged, “Evans is married, and from what I’ve seen, has been faithful.”

Pastor nodded, “Head, Sex is not the most important thing in life. And remember what the Lord said, ‘Do not be drunk on wine, that leads to depravity. Fill yourself with the spirit.’ And Evans, I am sorry about your friend, but this is a tough time for us all, so try and grieve in a healthier way, and not attack other men.”

The Lieutenant walked over to the group. They quickly scrambled to attention. Lieutenant Kestel looked concerned. She waved her hand, “What is going on here?”

Chilcott stepped forward, “Lady Medway, It is a simple matter that we have resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience we may have caused.” He knelt down and kissed her hand then rose.

The Lieutenant nodded, “Very well.” She looked at Head’s face and Evans’ hand, “Just save some for the Vledscans.”

She turned about and left. Chilcott sighed. Ustinov looked over, “When we were talking about royalty, you never said you had the greetings down perfectly Chilly.”

“Occasionally after a show, some minor noble would want to meet the juggler,” Chilcott shrugged.

Tiscornia screwed up his face, “Wait… You were a juggler before the war? I’ve feel like I would have found that out over the past… year plus that we’ve known each other.”

Chilcott shrugged again, “Never really came up.”


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