Misput Fealties: Prologue 3

…Continued from Prologue 2

Corporal Lytchett Miriam Matravers looked at herself in the mirror for the last time.  She checked her spotless dress uniform, put her slouch hat on and squared it. Picking up her gloves, Chet walked out of the room without bothering to shut the door. She was greeted with wolf whistles from the men and women of her squad, who had gathered to see her off.

“Cheers, corp.”

“Bye, corp.”

“Good luck.”

“I’m not gone yet.”

“Yeah, but you’ll be so pissed tonight you won’t know who we are!” This was Blandford, who hoped he was going to succeed her – the others laughed a lot.

“Yeah, well, I won’t be going far.”

She would shift over to the facing block, and her old friend Melbury Bubb would take over as Sergeant in this block. He would be good for them, although she didn’t think he would grant Blandford his wish; Mel could see through him as well as she could. She waved to her soldiers and left the wing, her hard, shiny shoes click-clacking down the stairs and over the linoleum floors to the foreside way in.

She stepped outside to find Lieutenant Loxbeare, her platoon leader, waiting under a cloudy sky. She liked her officer, but they had argued in recent months – Leigh had wanted her to go for officer training rather than waiting for her third stripe. Chet thought it wise but somehow unfair that only women could be officers. She felt she could not look her manly comrades in the eye if she took the smooth way out, as it seemed to her.

She saluted, and the Lieutenant saluted back, smiling. They marched together towards their Regimental HQ. From other barrack blocks, other Corporals and Officers did the same, but each two kept to themselves.

“Congratulations, Chet, you will be the youngest woman Sergeant in the Regiment’s yore.”

“Thanks, Ma’am.” Leigh always wore her feminism on her sleeve.  Chet wondered if her ambition was any better than the old Patriarchy.

“Chet,” she began awkwardly, “I have some bad news about your friend Corporal Bubb.”

The Lieutenant had never liked Mel. “Oh?”

“I’m aghast he’s not getting his third to-”

“Why the hell – ” She fought down her wrath, “ah, why not ma’am?”

“Being as,” said the Lieutenant, “he started a fight in the Capital last month that led to a riot.”

Chet kept her eyes forward. She had heard about Mel’s caper, but thought, as everyone else had, that he’d got away with it.

“He was identified last week and found guilty yesterday. He’s been busted back to Private and sent to the lockup. He won’t be joining you in the Sergeants’ Mess anytime soon.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, ‘oh’.” They strode on for a few strides. “I’m sorry for you Chet, you were always a good sway over him. You saw the best in him – somehow.”

The story continues … here.

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