Tales of Captain Jack
"I'm looking for Stacked Jack?"
The soldiers erupted in laughter. All except one. She scowled at the others before turning her sharp eyes on the new guy.
"And who the hell told you to say that?"
"Uh--" He fumbled, turning over his shoulder searching for the large bearded man who'd pointed him over here, finding only more eyes and snickers.
She followed his gaze and stood. "Oy, Femie! Don't have the balls to come over 'ere and say it yerself, eh?"
The other soldiers sitting around the fire laughed some more, quieting only when she rested her hand on the hilt of her sword as she shot them all a look. A robust bearded man took a swig from his cup, letting out a loud sigh after he swallowed.
"What do you need, lad?" He said licking the foam from the long ends of his mustache.
"I'm here from Capitol. Was told to report to Captain Jack Marion. I'm Leonard Pickling." He stood tall in his armor, his chin lifting slightly before relaxing. "I'm sorry about the Stacked--"
"Don't fucking say that again." The woman's eyes were hard as she spoke and Leonard looked at her hand still on her hilt. If her sword was as steely as her gaze, he had every reason to feel the hairs standing on his neck.
The fat bearded man looked from her to Leonard before finally standing and clearing his throat. "Welcome to Ice Camp, Pickling. Happy to have ye. I'm Marmo Bryce. That there is Captain Jack Marion."
Leonard didn't mean to, but he did a double take as he followed Marmo's fat thumb gesturing to the angry red-headed she-devil.
"YOU are Captain Jack?" He regretted the words as they escaped his mouth. To his relief, she didn't react with a Longsword in his gut. Instead she watched him in his discomfort for a moment before sniffing loudly and rubbing her thick gloved hand under her nose, which was pink from the cold.
"Aye. And you're late, Pickling. I had a message from Capitol three weeks ago that you'd be here in a week's time. Did you run into trouble or under a skirt?"
More snickers from the other men gathered around the fire. The blood rushed to his cheeks and Leonard shook his head. "No, Madame-- er, Captain. I hit a storm, and bunkered down. Lost my horse to the cold and made my way on foot the rest of the way."
"Well, glad you made it. Follow me, I'll show you to your tent and I'll have that bastard Femie set you up with a new horse." The men shuffled their legs so she could move around the fire to where Leonard stood and began strutting away before Marmo interjected.
"The boy is probably half starved, Capt'n. Let's fill his belly with some hot rabbit stew and ale first, eh?"
Leonard turned from Marmo to Captain Jack. His stomach was rumbling and the cold had long since frozen his armor down to his bones.
Captain Jack paused, looking from Leonard to Marmo before finally nodding. "Fine. Eat and drink as much as you like. One of the men will show you to your tent. Tomorrow we're taking a small party to the peaks-- I expect you with us, Pickling."
"Yes, Captain." Leonard said, but she was already stalking away, the tip of her heavy sword swaying with her strides.
A heavy slap on the back shocked Leonard to turn and face the red cheeked Marmo. "Come on, my boy. Sit by the fire, stew is piping hot."
Sitting by the fire with three bowl's full of stew in his belly and thirstily gulping down his fourth cup of ale, he finally felt himself begin to relax from his prickly first encounter with his new Captain. He listened quietly to the men talk, burp, fart and laugh as they told stories and jokes.
Marmo leaned over, refilling Leonards cup. "Yer a quiet one."
Leonard smiled, nodding thanks for the refill. "She hates me, I should think."
"The Captain? Nah! She knows you were set up. That Femie has a sharp sense of humor. And mark my words, it's gonna get him killed one day." Marmo laughed, raising his glass to his lips.
"I've never seen a woman soldier before. Even if I'd had to imagine what one would look like-- I would not have been expecting that. She's-- she's--" Leonard's gaze was slowed by ale but his mouth seemed to be picking up speed as the words came rushing out.
"She's the finest damn soldier here, I'll tell you that right now." Marmo cut him off. "If I'm going to battle, I want that wild woman leading me. If that's what women soldiers are like, I think the King should sign a damned proclamation making ALL Captains and Generals alike be a lass!"
"Oy!" The other men cried, all raising their mugs to their beloved Captain Jack before tossing them back and draining their contents.