For Glory, For Empire
Li and Bon Become Guardsmen for the Colony
Bon sat on a barrel looking out towards the colony from the rail of the Steadfast. He heard skittering above him on the ropes. He prepared himself for Li’s questions with a sigh.
“Hey Bon, wha’cha go’n to do now that the ’Fast’s anchored?”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do either. Would be weird to stop being a crew member of the Steadfast. But with the captain sick and Fadlan and Zhenglunba dead, this ship might be cursed. Think this ship is cursed?”
“Mayhaps not. Did you hear the old sergeant is looking for guardsmen for the colony?”
“Want to do that until the Steadfast is ready to sail again?”
“Be better than sitting here day after day, night after night. I need wind.”
Bon let rip.
“I think I’m going to do it. Maybe I could make rank. Get a raise. Did you hear they found gold?”
“They did. Carbatkin has got it under lock already for the Poogs, but I bet there’s more to be had. People been saying it’s laying around to be found in those hills. I’m going to find me some and go back to Flen and buy me a ship of my own. I’m even going to let you name it, being the right nice guy I am. Wha’cha going to name it?”
“Ah, I was thinking of, ‘The Steadfast 2.’ What you think about that?”
Bon shrugged again.
“Hmm, maybe we both go back so rich, we can buy a whole fleet. That’d be something. Wouldn’t it?”
“You in then?”
Bon shrugged again, non-committal.
Major Lucat, Emperor’s Own Light Horse, retired, walked the new recruits through the patrol route.
“Now, make sure you keep your eyes open and your mouth shut. If you see anything or hear anything, take the whistle I gave you and blow it three times, then repeat after a quick pause. Keep whistling until help comes.”
Li raised his hand even though it was just Li and Bon standing in front of the old cavalry officer.
“Yes, Guardsman Xin,” said the Major with a raised eyebrow.
“Uh, so, like, blowing the whistle probably isn’t like the smartest plan, is it?”
Major Lucat furrowed his brows in confusion. “What do you mean by that, Guardsman?”
“Well, let’s say we see something dangerous, like one of those angry kitty men. If I start blowing the whistle like you say, he’s going to know right where I am, and will probably hurt me before I tweet this thing three times.”
The Major looked disbelievingly at Li’s friend Bon, Bon gave him a shrug, then he looked back at Li. “See here, Guardsman Xin. This is one of the central duties of a guardsman, to warn the camp if there is something dangerous nearby. That way the enemy doesn’t catch us unawares. Now, you might sustain some injury during duty, but wouldn’t it be better for that to happen to you, than say one of the women?”
“Oh, I don’t know Major. Most of those women can handle dangerous things pretty well, where I’m really only good at seeing at a distance and tying and untying knots.”
“Ok, Guardsman Xin, if safety is a key factor here, what if Guardsman Bon were with you. The both of you could be on duty at the same time and could help each other out if the alarm needed to be given. Guardsman Bon, will you lend your fellow guardsman aid in this duty?”
“Excuse me, Guardsman?”
“Uh, Yep, sir?”
“That’s ‘yes, sir,’ Guardsman Bon, and don’t you forget it. All good squads have discipline and respect for their officers and the both of you need to remember it. If I give you a job, I expect that you will complete it to the best of your ability. Now, you two continue working the patrol route. In two bells have one of you check in with me at the Control tent. That’s the red one you came to when you signed up. The other continue your patrol until otherwise relieved. Understood?”
“Sir, yes, sir,” snapped Li sharply.
“Uh, Yepsir, sir,” mumbled Bon, while he picked his nose.
“Carry on then.”