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“I am Colonel Robert Harvard, Army Special Messenger, I have been tasked with bringing the two of you safely to Medway. Think of me as your bodyguard.”
“Excuse me sir? What’s going on? How did you find us?”
“First off, don’t call me sir, you two are temporarily civilians again. This way, I will be able to take you two on a Ligurian transport that’s due in three days. Which also means you two will have to surrender all government issued equipment and uniforms You will be searched very thoroughly, so turn over everything. I have a suit for Mister Evans, and a dress for Mrs. Stoddart. Make sure to treat them nicely. They are loaners from the Duchess herself.” Colonel Harvard snapped, “You of course haven’t heard. The Duke Medway has passed. The Duchess Medway specifically requested your presence to help plan her coronation, which will be held once her cast is off. And I found you quite by luck. I was told you were last seen behind enemy lines. I’ve been hunting for you for almost a week now. I’d almost given you two up for dead.”
Evans and Polly sat in stunned silence for a moment. Evans said the first thing that came to his head, “Will we be passing through Seahaven Si… Colonel Harvard? I’d like to see my wife and daughter.”
“That would be the Silesian woman?”
“Yes si…”
“I helped her to the train station on my way here. A lovely lady. Almost due isn’t she?”
“Yes,” Evans smiled, “I hope it’s a boy this time.”
The Colonel turned to Polly, “And you’re the interesting guest aren’t you Mrs. Stoddart?”
“Excuse me Mister Harvard?”
“Well, none of my business, but your being there means that several important families will not show up. But eh, fuck em? My wife thinks you’re whole story is romantic or something. And this will provide some entertainment to the tabloids… Which reminds me,” The Colonel turned back to Evans, “Spend as much time publicly with you wife as possible. Tabloids will have a field day with you being recalled from service to go live with the Duchess for a while, so you’ll want to stop the rumors by showing how devoted and caring of a husband you are. If you are interviewed, try and play up your marriage as much as possible.”
And back to Polly, “And you, for god’s sake avoid the press like the plague. If they do corner you, remember, no matter what your husband’s family thinks, you will be a Lady someday. Act like it. No swearing, no contractions, no slang. Legs crossed, arms uncrossed. Always have a hat unless you’re in someones home. I am most definitely forgetting things, so try and figure that shit out.”
“Um… Alright Mister?”
“We can pick up an etiquette book once we land in Ethslin… Though, you should probably stay hidden, just to make sure you don’t get recognized by any of those fucking reporters. And Mister Evans, if anyone asks you what you’re doing or asks why you aren’t fighting. Just say you are on official government business. No more, and no less.”
“Sir? I mean, Mister Harvard?”
“Yes Mister Evans?”
“When are we going to… be back in the military?”
“Right before the ceremony. So you’ll be able to show off all your flashy medals…” He then reached into his pockets, “Which reminds me, Evans, you earned an MoE First Class for saving the Duchess Medway from the Steven’s Point, and for subsequent actions on the Torpedo Boat.” He pulled a medal out and handed it to Evans.
“Oh… Um… The sailors on that boat did plenty more than me.”
“Yeah, Torpedo Boat Six is famous now. All the sailors received at least an MoE First, and the Captain, Chief Engineer, and Gun Crew Commander all got a CoE. That, and it was named. Duchess Medway’s Own… That ceremony hasn’t happened yet. Those fuckers picked up something like six boatloads of drowning sailors before being ripped asunder. Most of the crew got out though.”
“Oh… Wow.”
“And you Mrs. Stoddart,” Colonel Harvard fished out another medal, “MoE Second for taking a pillbox that was pinning down your unit. I heard it would have been a First if it weren’t for your marriage.”
“Mister Harvard? May I ask you a question?”
“Yes.”
“Have you ever been on the front? Like, fighting, not just picking us up?”
“Not for very long. Before I was a messenger, I was in Intelligence. I was a Lieutenant Colonel when the war started. Tsiv River. My outpost was nearly overrun and we had to fight until we got all the documents destroyed and could retreat. After that, became an errand boy.”

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