Settling In

Evans dropped his kit next to the bunk bed in the corner of the tent. The top bunk was already made neatly and a kit was stowed underneath. He then trudged over to the much nicer cot on the other side of the tent and set down Major Kestel’s much heavier kit. The Major wouldn’t be arriving for a few more hours, so he could take his time unpacking her clothes, making her bed, and setting up her desk.

There was a knock on the door of the tent. Evans smiled. That should be the Private, who Evans could probably get to have them make the bed while he set up the desk. He walked over to the door and opened it.

“Polly?”

“Uh… Corporal… Evanston?

“Close, Evans.”

“Right… Shit. Sorry, I’ve only met you like twice.”

“Yeah, no problem…” Evans gestured for her to come into the tent, “So what the hell are you doing out here with the Ligurian Army?”

“Ah,” Polly smiled nervously, “Well, Remember the whole thing with Captain Stoddart?”

“Yes? Did he finally get tired of you and transfer you out here?”

“No,” She smiled, “Actually we got discovered… By someone important… So I was transferred to act as a Liaison to the Naval Infantry. Because I guess I’m embarrassing… On the plus side we were able to get married. Though he was supposed to marry someone less… poor.”

“Oh come on, thats ridiculous.”

“Oh no,” Polly shook her head, “Thats what Winny’s father said. Very loudly. When I was in the room. He also told Winny that if he wanted money for ‘whores like her’ he should have asked. So… Needless to say, his family didn’t come to our wedding.”

“Well shit…” Evans walked over to the bed and dumped out the Major’s kit onto the floor, “So Polly can you make the Major’s bed and organize her closet while I set her desk up?”

“Yes Corp,” Polly walked over to the bed and paused over the pile of the Major’s belongings. She bent down and started to put something into her pocket.

Evans snapped at her, “Polly. Don’t steal Major Kestel’s underwear. That’s weird.”

“Put think of all the money I could make from selling this!” Polly pulled it out of her pocket and folded it, “Plus I’d own something that used to belong to a noble person.”

“Aren’t you technically a noble person?”

Standing up, Polly put her hands on her hips and screwed up her face, “Huh… I guess you’re right.” She smiled, “So can I order you around now?”

“That’s not how the Army works Private. So go make that bed or you’ll be a Lady doing a hundred pushups….” Evans paused, “Wait, I remember talking with Major Kestel once, I think she said that you aren’t a Lady until Captain Stoddart is Second in line for his House. So you aren’t even a Lady anyways.”

“Dammit. I guess I’ll have to make her fucking bed then. But someday when the war is over and Winny is the Lord of Halsey, I will tell you what to do!”

“I’m from Halton. We’re a Free Town in the Duchy of Strongfield. That means we bow down to no mere Lords. We threw off the yoke of our Lord like six hundred years ago. Until, you know, when the Duke of Strongfield came in and took us over. But, in the town charter, it says that no Lord nor Lady shall enter Halton”

“Of course you’re a Strongy,” Polly picked up the sheets, “I’m surrounded by Ligurians, under the direct command of a Westerner and in a Battalion commanded by a Medwayan. Who would’ve thought that I’d miss being surrounded by Miners?”

“Yeah, you’re no longer special here. You were the one infantryman, the one girl, the girlfriend of the officer.”

“There were several other women in the Miners! I know you at least met Breezy and Brynn.”

Evans laughed as he slid a cabinet out, “It’s an old joke out West. ‘Join Lord Mitchell’s Mining Company. Where the Men are Men and the Women are also Men.’ There are also much cruder jokes along those lines.”

“True enough.”

“Hey, other thing, you’ve been with the Battalion for a few days, right?”

“Yeah,” Polly nodded as she tightened the hospital corners.

“Have you figured out the rank system yet? Before she went to her meeting, Major Kestel saluted someone and said, ‘Morning Captain.’”

“Oh God they are ridiculous here. Captain is the same as Colonel, except when you’re on a ship. Then Captain is anyone who is commanding the ship. But also still anyone with the Colonel level rank. Then Commander is a Lieutenant Colonel, Lieutenant Commander is Major, a Lieutenant is a Captain, and an Ensign is a Lieutenant. Then they have these things called Warrant Officers that are between Officers and Enlisted. You don’t have to salute them but I think you still call them Sir. Maybe. Then the Enlisted are even dumber.”

Polly sighed and then started counting on her fingers, “Master Chief Petty Officers are Regimental Sergeant Majors, Senior Chief Petty Officers are Battalion Sergeant Majors, and Chief Petty Officers are Company Sergeant Majors. But you actually have to say the Chief stuff. Next are Petty Officers. Petty Officer First Class is a Sergeant, Petty Officer Second Class is Corporal, and Petty Officer Third Class is Lance Corporal. Able Seaman is a more experienced Private such as myself, and Seaman is a less experienced Private. Also no they don’t appreciate jokes.” Polly paused for a moment, “Then it gets stupider. You never actually say Petty Officer. Every Petty Officer has something called a rating that replaces the Petty Officer part. You can tell them apart by their different hats and when they’re wearing helmets they have little badges on their shoulder boards. I mostly just hide from anyone who’s above Able Seaman so I don’t have to try.”

 

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