Digging Party

“So Corp, we’ve never really talked. I’m sorry, what is your name?” Evans was standing with Sergeant Gabriel’s Corporal watching the Team’s Lance Corporals and Privates digging out the dugout. Sergeant Gabriel had gone to talk with the other Sergeants.

The Corporal smirked. “Corporal Canina, but you can just call me Alida. And you’re Jim Evans, right?”

Evans nodded, then screwed up his face, “Wait, Alida Canina? That’s your name?” He laughed, “Alida Canina. Sorry.”

“I get that a lot. When my Husband proposed to me, he said, ‘Alida Hewitt, want ditch Hewitt and have the dumbest sounding name in the world?’ I can tell you one thing, my kids will not have any ‘i’ sounds in their names.”

“That’s why I have a nice, boring name like Evans, planning ahead. And I even saved my wife, her last name was Zakrzewska. That name is impossible to pronounce,” Evans pulled out his shovel, “I’m gonna go make some quick wall scrapes for the Captain, Boswell, and I.”

“Right. You want a little help? I’m a little bored watching the excavation.”

“Alright Alida Canina. Cap’s a bit short, so she can deal with a pretty small one,” Evans knelt and started hacking at the frozen wall of the shellhole. Canina got down next to him and joined in. After about half an hour of hard work, they had excavated barely enough space for the Captain to sleep in. The two stepped back to look on the progress of the rest of the party when the Captain walked in.

She walked over to Evans, “So how’s the progress on my dugout James?”

Evans looked over, “Looks like you’ll be sleeping in a scrape today.

“Very well, I think I will be turning in now, Wake me when Lieutenant Gates has a proper report, right lad?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“And if you clear the dugout wake me.”

Evans snapped his fingers, “Oh yes, Cap… I could procure a blanket for you if you need one. Sleeping on the surface can be quite cold Ma’am.”

“Be quick about it James.”

“Righto Ma’am,” Evans tucked his shovel into his belt and walked down the line looking for any blankets. He eventually found a wall scrape that had a tattered blanket hanging down. He ripped it off and wadded it up. A soldier inside started to whine.

Evans rolled his eyes, “Fuck off, this is going to an officer.”

The soldier sat up, fluffed her hair, and sarcastically said, “But is this officer as pretty as I?”

“It’s Lady Demetria of Medway.”

The soldier snapped her fingers, “Damn. I can’t top that. I guess I should feel honored. A noblewoman is stealing my curtain.” She paused a moment, “Wait, Lady Demetria is here? Like nearby?” The soldier stepped out, “Can I… uh, go with you to… Make sure this gets to uh… Her Grace?”

Evans shook his head, “No, she gets really annoyed at this. She is just Lady Demetria now. She isn’t called Her Grace until she actually becomes Duchess. Apparently there are a bunch of really weird rules for talking to her.”

“Is that a yes then?”

“Sure, whatever. Fine.”

She smiled, “Best day ever. She’s my hero.”

Evans rolled his eyes, “Ugh. So, what’s your name?”

“Private Pollard. My friends call me Polly.”

“Alright Pollard, with me. And I’m Lance Corporal Evans.”

The two then walked back to the section of line where Captain Kestel was in. She was lying down, attempting to sleep when Evans tapped her on the shoulder. She rolled to face him, “What Lance? Got a Blanket.”

Polly smiled and held it up, “It’s my blanket Lady. I’m so honored to meet you. I’m Ann. Polly. I mean Private Pollard Ma’am”

The Captain nodded, “Thank you very much Private Pollard. I will return this if I am able.” She scribbled a quick note into her notebook, ripped it out, and handed it to Evans, “Give this to her commanding officer.”

“Yes Cap,” Evans stuffed the paper into his pocket and looked to Pollard, “Can you show me where your officer is?”

She nodded and started walking, “It is a bit weird with him though, I’m temporarily attached to the Miner’s as a security detail, so we might have to go underground to find him.”

“Right, At least we’ll be out of the rain, eh?” Evans gestured back to the recent shell hole.

“Yes indeed. I would rather be in your company though, under the command of Lady Demetria.”

Evans shrugged, “Eh, sometimes, I have to deal with annoying people who treat my officer like an animal at a zoo.”

Polly mocked him a little then pointed to the entrance to a tunnel, “Here we go. We need to find a Captain Stoddart. He’s a bit crazy, but he’s a good officer.”

Evans paused, “Wait, Winston Stoddart the Third?”

“Yeah? You know him?”

“He was my platoon leader before Captain Kestel. And he’s a good officer now?”

“Yeah, He really knows a lot about mining and really passionate about rocks. Sometimes, during our special meetings, we won’t even do anything, he’ll just talk about the different rocks he encountered while mining. Plus there’s this weird thing called Uniformi… something. And that is wrong according to him? It’s all really complicated.”

“Uniformitarianism is not wrong, it is just flawed Polly. Everyone treats it like gradualism is the only way, while I am here, digging through what is obviously evidence that Catastrophism is somewhat right. Now of course in a few weeks it will all be blown to Hell. Which is of course even more evidence that Geology happens fast sometimes. I’m about to make a huge crater that would take erosion untold millennia to make. I did most of my research out here until my Professor told me to knock it off and not make waves,” Captain Stoddart paused and stared at Evans for a few seconds, “Private Evans?”

“Lance Corporal Evans Sir. I have a message from Captain Kestel regarding Private Pollard’s blanket Sir. Captain Kestel has requisitioned it for her purposes while her dugout is being excavated, and, it will be returned as soon as possible,” Evans held out the piece of paper to Captain Stoddart, “Here it is Sir, signed by the Captain herself.”

“Very Well Lance Corporal,” He smiled, “I should like to meet her sometime, her families land has some interesting structures from the Carboniferous that I have wanted to look at.”

“Right Sir, Am I dismissed?”

“Yes Lance Corporal,” Captain Stoddart gestured to Private Pollard, “Now that your up Polly, I need to talk about something.”


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