Written for a series of weekly sub prompts under the umbrella of the main challenge "Plan" over at Cheesemongers. The sub prompts consisted of: Brightness (taken to mean Light), I Yam What I Yam, Creativity, and Crowned. Occurs before Dulce et Decorum Est.
Summary: Polly and Mal are seconded to another regiment for a highly secret job. If they only follow the plan, everything should be easy. However, which plan should they be following? (Polly/Mal, but affection only, nothing explicit)
Disclaimer: Terry Pratchett owns the characters and the world they live on. I am grateful for all the brilliant books and make no claims of ownership in any way.
A Spot of Light Relief
The letter had come from the highest authority. In typical soldier fashion they'd grumbled and done their best to wiggle out of it. But here they were, a week later, packing up and moving out. On her way back from a trip to get the last small things they needed Polly stopped off to settle the bill for their digs. They were, as usual, running late and she took the stairs two at a time only to be stopped short in the doorway by the enormity of what confronted her.
"Mal!" This was too bad. "It's a secondment to the Light Infantry, not the Heavy Dragoons!"
Mal may be the epitome of a lean mean fighting machine, Polly thought, but you wouldn't think it to look at her now. Helplessly she indicated the large pack the vampire was elegantly leaning against. "Light Infantry Sergeant! That means we travel light!
To her further annoyance Mal refused to listen and explained, delicately - as though to a child, that she'd tried travelling light and it really didn't suit the vampire temperament. Plus, she added with her head on one side, there was her image to keep up.
Polly in turn reminded her that they were now unfortunately tasked with keeping up with the Light Infantry, who lived up to their motto of "Swift and Bold" by running anywhere and everywhere. How exactly did the enormous pack fit into that picture?
"No problem!" Mal lifted the pack easily in one hand "Vampire strength, remember?" She continued to raise and lower the pack as she talked. "Can lift heavy loads with the greatest of ease, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera," and for emphasis she tossed the pack from hand to hand.
Polly sighed. Vampires!
"Also not affected by gravity" Mal added as an afterthought. "Surely you remember Poll, the open window, the starry skies,"
"Yes! OK! I remember" Polly interrupted, infuriated with the easy blush was rising to her cheeks. She turned away; shoulders hunched with tension and packed the last items into her small haversack.
Mal stopped teasing. Humans, she reminded herself, did need foolish reassurances from time to time. She stepped across the gap between them, took Polly's arm and turned her gently back. "It'll be ok Lieutenant, I promise" she assured before dropping a kiss into the blond hair.
The form in her arms remained stiff and unresponsive. "If we just stick to the plan we'll be fine. Easy job. In and out in no time. No problem." She was blathering she knew, but it seemed to be working. Polly relaxed and her arms slid around the slim waist but they were interrupted by a shout from below. With a sigh for the inconvenient habits of the army, Mal struggled into her massive pack while Polly slung her smaller bundle over her shoulder and took one last look around the room to check they had left nothing behind.
As they disappeared into the stairwell voices drifted back up into the now bare room.
"The new uncomplicated and effective plan that you will come up with for us, Sir. With the help of your dashing and incomparable Sergeant."
"Ah." Polly sighed. "That plan."
They were fighting to keep up with the rear of the column, every breath a struggle to filter air from the dust sent up by the feet of the men in front of them. Mal enquired delicately if it would be excusable to kill the sergeant whose chirpy cadence kept them moving at such a crippling pace. She had to wait through four bars of his singing for Polly to catch enough breath to answer.
"No." Another 4 bars. "We follow the plan."
"What plan?!" This time the wait seemed longer. A week ago, Polly thought, she had considered she was fit. This was ridiculous!
"You know." Two agonising breaths. "The Plan."
"I'm not sure 'The Amazing Maladicious and His Vanishing Slave Girl' is really going to go down well in front of this crowd Sir!
Mal gently swayed around the elbow Polly sent in her direction with a hurt expression that indicated her feeling of unfairness at the world in general. Vampires did not jog, it wasn't seemly, and now her superior officer was instigating a vicious attack on her person.
"Not that plan! Polly gasped the words out with the last of her breath. "The other plan!"
Blasted insufferable vampires and their ignorance of gravity!
Mal looked pained. "I don't remember the plan involving this much running!"
But then there was no breath for further conversation as the shout came down the column for an increase in pace. The sergeant, Mal decided, would come to an evil and complicated end possibly involving ants. The call filtered to them through the dust and the shout back echoed along the road.
Light Infantry! What Are We?
SWIFT AND BOLD !!
They did not join in the refrain