The Two Lance Corporals had taken as long as they could to cook the food so they avoided doing any real work. They finished just in time for the Lieutenant to call for them. They picked up the trays of food they walked into the courtyard, where someone had set up a dinner table with two chairs Evans and Tiscornia started setting the table. A few minutes later the Lieutenant emerged from the building, surprisingly, freshly bathed. Evans was unsure how she had found enough water or soap to take a bath, but it apparently had been done. He shrugged and finished setting the table.

Lieutenant Kestel walked past him towards the Vledscan’s main building and knocked on the door. A disheveled looking enlisted man opened the door, paused a moment, and then yelled back to someone behind him. In a few moments, the Baron came out and offered his arm to the Lieutenant. She took it and the two walked towards the table. Evans and Tiscornia pulled seats out as they approached. The officers sat and ate their meal.

Taking their leave, Evans and Tiscornia ran back to the kitchen and ate the dinner they made for themselves. Much better than the usual food they had. Once they finished, they ran back out to the officers, in time for them to clear the table. When they did, Lieutenant Kestel kissed the Baron on the cheek and walked back to the Ethslin side to prepare herself for the duel. She grabbed Evans, quickly ordered a Private to clear the table with Tiscornia. She sat down, took off her helmet, undid her hair, and pulled a letter out of her jacket, “Evans, if I die, I want you to deliver this letter to my father. Do not let it go through the censors.”

Nodding, Evans responded, “Yes Ma’am. Do you want me to tie back your hair so he doesn’t grab it?”

“Don’t worry, the Baron is an honorable man. He won’t try anything like that,” The Lieutenant retied her boots, “When the duel happens, I will take off my jacket and scabbard and hand them to you. You will walk back to the unit and stand with the rest. If I die, place them back on me. Now let us go. I think they are mustering.”

The Lieutenant stood up and walked outside, leaving her helmet. Evans followed her to the center of the courtyard. The soldiers were standing at their respective sides. The Baron was standing in the center, jacket off, sword drawn, talking to the younger Vledscan officer.

The Lieutenant took off her jacket and handed her scabbard to Evans. She walked up to the Baron, grabbed his collar, pulled him down, roughly kissed his mouth and walked back. She whispered to Evans as she drew her sword, “That should confuse him a bit.”

Evans turned around and walked back to the unit, next to Tiscornia. When he turned back around, the Lieutenant was standing about 5 meters from the Baron, facing him, sword in front of her face. The Baron bowed and the Lieutenant gave a quick curtsy. They started to circle, looking for each others weakness.

The Baron was the first to strike. He leapt forward and thrust towards the Lieutenant’s stomach. She stepped back and parried the blow, rode the blade forward and attempted to strike the Baron’s shoulder. He took a step backwards, pushed her blade up, and swiped downward. She lightly stepped backwards to avoid the blow. The Lieutenant then leapt forward and stabbed the Baron in the left shoulder. He winced and attempted to grab the Lieutenant’s blade, but she quickly stepped back. The Baron smiled, “You like to play rough don’t you?” He slapped her blade to the side and lunged forward, but she dodged. “Don’t worry, I’ll be in there before too long.”

Looking for an opening, the Lieutenant pointed her blade and said, “Sorry, but I am waiting until marriage to do that.”

Laughing, the Baron whipped his blade in a showy manner, “I think I can convince you otherwise, but your insistence on purity is to be admired.”

Evans looked at Tiscornia and whispered, “Is he hitting on her?”

“It’s part of the whole dueling ritual. When dueling was just between men, it was often over a woman. So, usually they would talk about their sexual prowess. Then, when woman started dueling, they had to be pure or something. And now it’s just part of the ritual.”

Evans shrugged and went back to watching the fight. The Baron lunged, and half a second later the Lieutenant jumped forward. The blade sunk deep into Lieutenant Kestel’s shoulder. The Vledscans cheered as the Baron smirked, “That feels nice, doesn’t it? Want me…”

He hadn’t pulled the blade out fast enough. The Lieutenant buried her sword into the Baron’s stomach, “A bit premature there. Don’t worry, it happens to a lot of men.” She pulled her blade up while she drew it out, cutting open his stomach.

The Baron attempted to respond, but all that came out was blood. He collapsed to the ground and gurgled for a few moments. The Lieutenant curtsied, did an about face, walked towards Evans, handed him the sword, and said, “I need this cleaned and sharpened Evans.” She then stumbled a few steps and collapsed. Tiscornia stepped out and caught her. He walked her to a nearby bench as the stunned Vledscan soldiers stared. Three of them were collecting the Baron’s body.

The younger Vledscan officer yelled a few words to his soldiers. Evans looked at Ustinov, who translated, “Let’s go home.”

Evans walked indoors to the Lieutenant’s office, put the Lieutenant’s gear on his desk. A few seconds later, four soldiers, including Boswell, carried the Lieutenant in. Evans quickly cleared off the desk, giving space to lie her down. Newey came in immediately after and pulled out his medical kit. He pulled the shoulder of her shirts down and started to apply dressing. Evans opened her mouth and started giving her small amounts of water from his canteen.

Once the dressing was on, Newey reached for a syrette, but the Lieutenant waved her arm. Evans stopped pouring to allow for her to speak, “Don’t put any of those drugs in me. I’ll be good.”

“Yes Ma’am,” Newey packed up his kit and pulled the Lieutenant’s shirts back up.

Evans pointed to Boswell and another female soldier, “You two, the Lieutenant needs to switch to a clean undershirt.” He went through her gear, pulled one out, and tossed it to the two, “I’ll stand guard outside of the room.”

Evans led Newey out of the room and shut the door behind him. Newey looked longingly at the door and put on a mocking voice, “Evans, you are the worst friend. My one hope to feel up a noble woman, dashed. I would have been the hero of all men in this army.”

Evans kicked him, “Oh shut up, you could have done it when you were bandaging her.”

“Don’t you dare tell anyone that. I don’t want to ruin my playboy image.”

“Oh, a playboy image? You’re a Lance Corporal. And once you leave the army, you’ll be some farmer in the middle of… Where again?” Evans pretended to think, “Oh, yeah, forty miles from Strongfield. You will be wading through women.”

Newey winked at a passing soldier from 3rd, “Bitches love farms.”

“What the Hell does that even mean?” Evans slowly shook his head.

Boswell opened the door, “The Lady wants you Evans.” She then left the room with the other soldier.

Evans shrugged and walked in. The Lieutenant was sitting up, “Fire the Green flare. Tell the Sergeant Major to send Third Platoon to hold the buildings across the courtyard. And, I’m going to rest. Tomorrow, we torture Sergeant Knowles to death.”


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