“Evans. Come here.”
Standing up, Evans crouch walked over to Lieutenant Kestel, who was kneeling behind a window, scanning into a periscope across the courtyard. He came alongside her and whispered, “Yes Ma’am?”
The Lieutenant quickly drew a diagram on some paper. It was a crude map of the courtyard. There were X’s and O’s on various parts of the map, “Here is our position, and here are the Boxers. Knnecappers are spread out all along the sides, so we can’t flank. Our ammunition is low and so is theirs. The only solution is a direct assault with knives and bayonets. In which case we would be butchered by their remaining machine gun. The same is true for the Boxers.”
“Should I get the Sergeants for orders?”
Shaking her head, Lieutenant Kestel put her hand on her sword, “I’m going to make sure we have only one casualty at most.” She gestured to one of the bedrooms, “Get a white sheet and tie it to the end of your rifle. Meet me at the entrance in a few minutes.”
Nodding, Evans moved to the bedroom and got to work. He felt a tinge of guilt ripping apart the nice sheets, knowing that someone had paid quite a bit of money for these. He fixed his bayonet and tied a small rectangular piece to it. He then went downstairs to the entrance.
The Lieutenant was talking with Sergeant Campbell. She finished up and walked over to Evans. Her 80 centimeter officer’s sword was in it’s scabbard on her left hip. She looked up at him, “Poke the flag out the door and prepare to move out on my command. When we leave, stay on my left, keep you’re rifle aimed vertically, and stay silent.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Evans approached the door and leaned the flag out. He waved it for several seconds to try and get the attention of the Vledscan’s. He half expected a rifle grenade land right next to him any moment now.
Instead, he heard a voice shout, “Come! We meet at the fountain!”
Lieutenant Kestel tapped him on the shoulder and started to march out. Evans matched her step, when he cleared the door, he leaned the rifle on his left shoulder and rested it on his hand. She stopped him at the fountain. In a few moments, a bookish looking officer wearing an eighty five centimeter small sword approached. He was accompanied by a younger officer carrying a white flag on a rifle. Evans wished he knew the Vledscan officer ranks. Lieutenant Kestel spoke to him, “Stand easy.”
Evans quickly slung his rifle. The elder Vledscan officer seemed to issue a similar order, because the younger officer slung his rifle and nervously scratched his face. Lieutenant Kestel stretched out her hand, “Lady Demetria of Medway, whom do I have the pleasure of acquainting myself with?”
The officer took her hand, “The pleasure is all mine. I am Baron Semyon of Kalach. Now I must say Lady Demetria, I had heard stories of your great beauty, and they did not give you nearly enough credit.”
She gave a quick curtsy, “Thank you Baron. And I believe I have met your sister, the Lady Maria. Another specimen of beauty.”
The Baron nodded, “Now, on to business. Why have you arranged this meeting with me here Lady Demetria?”
She gestured to the two buildings, “I think you will agree Baron, that we are in a bit of a stalemate here. The only way for my soldiers to take your position, is by a bloody bayonet charge. And from what I’ve observed, you share the option. We are both soldiers of honor, and cannot back down from a fight, but we should not needlessly throw away the lives of our young soldiers.” She rested her left hand on the hilt of her sword, “So I propose a duel. Tonight, at sundown, we shall fight here, in the courtyard. Whoever loses, their unit will fall back, reporting the death of their officer, allowing the advance of the others unit.”
The Baron shook his head, “I would, but it is against my ethics to strike a Lady.”
Nodding, the Lieutenant looked to Evans, “Lance Corporal, hit me.”
“Hit me Lance Corporal, on the face.”
Evans hesitantly held out his hand towards the Lieutenant. At her nodding, he lightly hit her face. She then turned back to the Baron, “My honor has been affronted. Is it not your duty to fight the Lance Corporal?” Before the Baron had a chance to answer, she continued, “I suppose tonight, about sundown. I shall be his second,” She pulled out her knife, grabbed Evans’ hand, cut his palm, and slid it back into it’s sheath, “Oh well, it looks like Evans has injured himself and can’t fight. I suppose I will have to fight in his stead.”
The Baron nodded, “I see you have forced my hand. It will be a shame to kill someone as beautiful as you.” He knelt and kissed her hand. He straightened himself up, “I will order my men to stand down for the night. We can recover the dead and wounded. And perhaps, Lady Demetria, you will give me the honor of dining with you before our duel?”
The Lieutenant nodded, “I will Baron Semyon. I will meet you here one hour before sundown. My man will cook. When the meal is done, we shall bring out our soldiers, and one of us will leave. And I do agree about the parties.” She then pulled to attention, “Detail. Atten Shun!”
Evans snapped to attention.
“About…” Evans drew the semicircle with his right foot, “Turn!” On the command, Evans turned around, while switching the rifle to the other shoulder.
“Forward March.” Evans stepped off with his left foot.
After a few paces they neared the door, “Ready… Halt.”
“Fall Out And Wait For Me With Sergeant Campbell.”
Evans took a step backwards, “Yes Ma’am!” He about faced, then walked through the open door. Sergeant Campbell was standing in the corner with an eyebrow raised, “So how’d it go Evans?”
Looking around to make sure the Lieutenant was out of earshot, he whispered to the Sergeant, “She is insane. But at least she cares about us.”
“Yes. At least she does,” Sergeant Campbell nodded, “I just wish she would show us in ways that didn’t involve her attempting to get herself killed.”
“Do not worry lads,” the Lieutenant seemed to appear out of nowhere, “I am a better swordsman than the Baron by far.” She then waved the other Sergeants in, “Alright soldiers, we have a momentary truce with the Vledscan unit. So I want each team to collect bodies and wounded. Since Sergeant Campbell is the Senior Sergeant, he will organize the parties. Evans, I need you to prepare a meal for the Vledscan officer and me. You may have one other soldier to assist you. Everyone, at Sundown, I will be engaging in a duel to the death with the Vledscan officer, so I want our entire unit mustered in the courtyard ten minutes before. If I win said duel, the Vledscan unit will back down. If I lose the duel, you are to collect your belongings and pull back. All Good?”
The Sergeants and Evans nodded. Evans raised his hand, “Might I have Lance Corporal Tiscornia Ma’am?”