85 ~ Caelum

Caelum loved to watch Yarrow work. Especially when that work was calling errant soldiers to duty.

Something she’d not had to do much of, he reflected thankfully; so he doubly enjoyed the show now.

Lieutenant James quivered in Yarrow’s grip as she pushed him against the wall harder.

“What’s the deal, James? Don’t tell me you forgot leave was over – you wouldn’t have run from me if that were the case,” she snarled at him. It was true. James had spotted Yarrow and Caelum coming down the street and bolted. Unfortunately for him, Yarrow was a faster runner.

James struggled in Yarrow’s grasp and she slammed him against the wall again, her nails digging into his throat. “Have I been so bad a bellica that you felt the need to desert, Lieutenant?”

“No,” gasped James. His face was turning interesting colours. “”s not you I’m running from, Bellica.”

Caelum almost laughed at the look on Yarrow’s face. “You’re running from Caelum?”

From anyone else, Caelum might have felt insulted. As it was, it was all he could do to keep from laughing himself.

Apparently James felt the same way. His face twisted in mirth once, convulsively, before he sobered and shook his head. “No, Bellica. I no longer wish to serve the Empress.” He went limp, as if he expected Muerta to take him for his treacherous words.

There was a very still silence, and then Yarrow released the man. He slid down the wall and nearly fell to the ground, but regained himself in time.

“You serve me, soldier. No one else.”

Caelum drew in his breath, acutely aware of what Yarrow really said. James wasn’t, for Caelum could see the questions on the lieutenant’s face. Yarrow was already walking away, her job finished; Caelum gave her the signal to return to the tavern as he appeared beside Lt. James and put his arm around the man’s shoulders.

“No questions, Lieutenant. Not till we leave.” He glared at the man and to his surprise, Lieutenant James nodded and saluted.

“Yes, sir.”

Caelum gave a brisk nod and pushed the lieutenant off in the direction of the tavern. The man’s questions couldn’t be answered now anyway – not until Caelum and Yarrow had had a little chat about treason.

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