All Due Honors

“Even in the Wilds, I can’t seem to escape the paperwork,” Carmen mused aloud, using her quill to sign off on the soon to be transposed requisition list.

A tapping on the poles holding up her tent brought her out of her pensiveness. Turning, she found Markus standing at-ease in at the front of her temporary home holding two wrapped up packages.

“They’ve been completed, I see.” Carmen grinned and stood to give him a Navy salute, to which he responded with an Army salute.

“Yes, sir.” Markus drawled, “Though you’ll have to forgive my simple Army stitching.”

“Thank you, Markus, this means a lot to me.” Carmen’s grin changed to a serious and appreciative smile.

Carmen put on her Commander’s hat and straightened her uniform. Markus handed over the packages and they both exited back into the chill night air. Walking towards a point with many lamps near the beach. Markus pondered for a few moments and then spoke up again.

“I see that. Though frankly, I’m still not sure why you’re bothering with some Merchant House skipper. Sir.” Markus’s voice held a bit of true vexation in it.

“Perspective, I supose. I was literally born on the Sea, Sergeant, to an Admiral who himself spent most of his life sailing.” Carmen paused to gather her thoughts better, her lips forming a slight frown. “This merchant sailor is someone I feel I owe some respect. He and his daughter were also part of a sailing crew under my command, as far as I’m concerned. To me, that means I’m responsible.”

Markus grunted. “This is why I never tried for my commission. You officers take everything far too seriously, sir.”

“Maybe, but at least I have you to keep me grounded.” Carmen’s grin returned with reinforcements.

“Absolutely, Sir.” Markus grinned himself now. “How’s Lucat been doing while I’ve been off on my errand?”

“He’s a good commander, in his own way. Though it seems like he’s also constantly looking for some native animal he can train as a mount.” Carmen shrugged. “I suppose I know how he feels.”

Markus raised an eyebrow and his eyes glinted with amusement. “You’re also looking for something to mount, sir?”

Carmen threw her head back and laughed. “Only a good Imperial Warship, you cad.”

They entered into the circle of lamplight that marked the merchant’s tents. The long shadows cast seemed to remind them of the grim duty they were performing and both fell silent. They walked that way until both came upon a young woman with lines under her otherwise too youthful eyes. She spotted them approaching and game them a tired smile.

“Commander, to what do I owe the honor?” She said.

Carmen doffed her hat. “I am here to offer my proper condolences for your fathers death. I apologize that I did not do so properly earlier, but I wanted to do so with all due honors rendered.” Carmen handed over the pair of parcels over to the woman and straightened into a formal Navy salute.

The woman looked from Carmen to the packages and back again. Opening the packages and looking at their contents, she gave a small choking gasp. Her tears flowed openly and her chin quivered.

“Thank you, Carmen.”

All Due Honors

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