More WIPitude…following on from Halo’s insubordination… yet more insubordination of a slightly different flavor. Because there are so many good ways to be bad.
There are quite a few people above Twice in the chain of command. I’m expecting to hear from Spears or White or maybe even Kilmarnock. Instead, someone much higher in the scheme of things makes an appearance whilst West and I are scrubbing the wall we already cleaned. It’s Sloth’s idea of a punishment, wasting labor. West has already heard that I’m being demoted, but she’s not sure if that means she can get away with anything yet. She’s cautious, trying to feel me out with ‘subtle’ questions.
I’m busy ignoring them when there’s a knock at the open door. We both turn to see someone completely unexpected standing there. Sarge. Sarge looks at both of us, then focuses her gaze on me. “Are you Halo Ray?”
She doesn’t know who I am because she’s one of the captain’s top three lieutenants. Most of the time she’s doing important things. I’m not an important thing, I’m just an annoying thing. Sometimes the line between annoying and important can be blurred. This is one of those times.
Sarge looks just like you’d expect her to look. She spends most of her time in the gym, maximizing muscle mass. For all her effort, she’s not super large. I mean, she’s taller and a bit broader through the shoulders and hips than most people on the ship, but she’s not wide like an ox. She’s lean like a tiger. A hungry tiger who wishes she could have just a few more carbs.
Her dark eyes are perpetually narrowed in a way that makes her look as though she’s regarding everything with a small measure of suspicion. She’s super fit and hyper-defined, but she has a strangely relaxed demeanor. There’s nothing hurried or overbearing about the way she speaks. It’s more of a drawl than anything, like someone turned the dial down on her speech. Her dark hair is graying slightly at the temples and buzzed into a severe cut, which is more flattering on her than it really should be.
She makes the uniform look good too. Her black slacks have neatly ironed creases down the front of each leg. They should look goofy, but they don’t. Probably something about the way they cling to her round, toned butt and sit flat across her hips. She’s smaller in the bust, but I bet if you took that perfectly pressed vest off she’d be all firm curves complimented by a softer rise of tender…
“Did you hear me?” She makes the inquiry relatively gently.
I’ve been looking at her perhaps a little longer than I should. I’ve never seen her up close before. Usually she’s standing up near the captain looking intimidating. Up close she’s different. Maybe a little softer? The crinkled lines around her eyes and lips make me think she likes to laugh and smile when she’s not on duty.
“No,” I say, finding my voice. “I’m Raylo Hay. We often get mixed up. Halo is in the hydroponics bay.”
The hydroponics bay is clear on the other side of the ship. Sarge thanks me and moves off in that direction.
“You’re crazy.” West is giving me an incredulous look. West still expects me to be the same old hard ass she used to know, but I’m tired of being that figure. I’ve been tired of it for a while, truth be told. We’re more or less the same rank now and she’s shocked at what she could have gotten away with if only she’d thought to try. “She’s going to tear strips off you for that.”
“You think?” I turn back to the wall and scrub a particularly clean spot until it’s cleaner than clean.
West drops her sponge into the bucket at our feet. “I heard Sarge once whipped a whole platoon because one woman’s laces were untied.”
I try not to snort out loud. There are all sorts of horror stories about officers, especially those who are more highly ranked. I think they encourage them. Keeps the subordinates in line when they think that there will be swift and horrible consequences for any misdeed. I know a little better than that. At least I hope I do.