Throne Room, Imperial Palace of Jordeus
Her face rose again, an expression of serenity upon her ladylike face. For all her melancholy thoughts, her face was as stately and ladylike as one would expect of the High Queen. "I thank you for your consideration and kindness. May my son grow to share my regard for you and your clan."
Won't you grant to your knight your ribbon and your prayer?
Oh how the heathens roar! But how my heart glows warm! Oh so warm.
Oh Knight, tip your lance, and charge into the breach!"
It was a beautiful day in the border regions. The perfect day for a parade. The kind that young Hir Paellorn used to fantasize about when he was a child. The lines of glistening tanks, the infantry in their crisp dress uniforms. The cheering adulation of the common citizen, and the admiring gazes of untold numbers of maidens. It made his heart swell with excitement and pride. And one could tell too. The smile on the young gunner's face was wide enough to swallow a tankshell of sufficient caliber. And as the brass band began the next stanza and the voice of the male singer surged, he knew that he couldn't be happier.
His commanding officer however was less than pleased.
The shirtless tank commander straightened himself, a bucket of water in hand as his subordinates scrubbed at the side of their tank. He and his crewmen had been attending to their tank's weekly maintenance. The last part was always a rubdown. Some might think that excessive. The tank was hardly cleaner when they next took it out for exercises, patrols or even a parade. But pride in one's work was earned, not given.
One reason the snoozing Hir was annoying him so.
Tank Commander Val Quirin strolled to where the younger man lay napping on the tank's hull. The tingy sound of the radio's speakers occasionally turned into a squeal as reception got worse. It would get even worse in a moment. Val strolled beside the young man, shifting his considerable mustache beneath his nose as he did so in irritation. The kid was just lying there. without so much as a care in the world. So Val hefted the bucket overhead, and slowly poured its contents over Hir. The gunner's first mistake was opening his mouth when Val was pouring the bucket directly on his head. Hir raised either arm to try and block it out, without much success. Knocking the radio onto the ground as he did so. His second mistake was trying to escape his commander's attempts to rouse him by rolling off to the side. A low *thump* came from the opposite side of the tank as Hir hit the ground, a small cloud of dust rising from the other side of the tank. The other two members of the tank crew raised their eyes, took in the spectacle, and then returned to washing the tracks. Hir for his part stood indignantly, his uniform soaked and coated in dust.
“Hey! What’s the big idea? Why I...”
Hir’s protests died as he caught sight of who had actually decided to wake him. His mouth moved up and down ineffectually. Giving his commanding officer a chance to shove the bucket into his hands.
“Private, why don’t you make yourself useful and fetch some more water for the tank? The big day is only a day away. I want this old girl to be shining like the belle at the ball.”
Hir stood rigid, holding onto the bucket as though afraid to drop it, then his shoulders slackened and he stalked off, clutching it to his chest. “...We’re just moving up to take our rotation at the border. Its not like its anything special...no more than the last fifty-three times.”
“HA! That’s where you’re wrong Hir.” The musclebound tank officer barked at him with a laugh. “Any posting along the border means there is the slightest chance we might get caught up in a war, or are the Border Troubles already a distant memory to you, lad? When the day war with the Aidelians or the Orientals break out, do you want them to point and laugh at us, or to fear us? Get four more buckets--I want her extra clean now.”
“Don’t let the mustache fool you! I'm no noble--I work for a living."
“Yes Staff Sergeant Quirin!"