as he approached, standing to attention as was required in formal military situations. The courier marched up and stopped before them, saluting curtly. Vance reciprocated with a salute of his own; Randell's was a little slower as he fumbled with the headgear and shocksticks in his padded mittens.
'Corporal James Vance?' asked the courier, unsure which was the correct recipient of his envelope.
'I'm Corporal Vance.' The courier wasted no time in thrusting the envelope forward. Before Vance could thank him, he turned on his heel and headed for the door.
Vance stared at the manila envelope. For several days he had waited for this envelope - with the stamp in the corner picturing a black silhouette of a wolf's head staring at a crescent moon. Randell could see it too, and Vance heard his friend breathing in his ear. He glared at his red-faced and greasy-skinned sparring partner.
'Well, are you going to open it, or do I have to take it off you?' asked Randell.
'You could try,' replied Vance, inserting his thumb beneath the lip and tearing the envelope's crisp brown edge. The white paper within bore the same wolf and moon insignia. Vance took in every detail as his eyes scanned the page. Then he hesitated before reading. This wasn't like him, but the weeks of pent up frustration, of waiting for this one communiqu©, made him hesitate.
'To Corporal James Vance,' whispered Randell slowly, craning his neck to read the letter over Vance's shoulder. Vance turned and stared at him, making his annoyance clear. 'Sorry,' said Randell, stepping back.
'Since you're so interested.' Vance held the letter up like an ancient herald about to announce an edict from the king. 'To Corporal James Vance. In response to your application for membership to the Razvedchik Regiment,