Just another little snippet from my WIP centered around Halo Ray, the mischievous space-switch from that other thing I wrote that one time. This thing is quite different from that thing. More on the thinginess of differentitude later. In the meantime, Halo is getting herself into trouble…
I’m lying on my bed, thinking about how stupid everything is when the door opens. It’s Officer Twice. She outranks me by three ranks. I’ve forgotten what they are. The coalition has all sorts of ranks and grades and bands and things. None of them mean all that much. There’s an order on the ship and we all know what it is. The flair is fairly immaterial.
Officer Helen Twice is forty-five years old, an experienced pilot and one of the best shots on the ship. Her salt and pepper hair is cut short enough to be practical but long enough to have some some form of style. She’s wearing blood red lipstick and a thick layer of mascara on her lashes. A scent accompanies her, something light like lilies and vanilla. Must be date night.
“Who’s the lucky lady?”
“Ray,” she says, ignoring my question. Her arms are folded across her chest and her eyebrows are reaching across her forehead in a frown. “You failed your performance review.”
“What?” I sit bolt upright. “Nobody fails their performance review. It’s not even possible to fail it, is it?”
“Not usually.” She’s looking at me with genuine annoyance. “You’re being demoted.”
“Your attitude has been unsatisfactory. Your review was substandard. Your performance has been slipping. You need a tune up, my girl.”
She brandishes a plastic paddle. This is usually the part where the subordinate gets spanked. Most take it fairly well, it’s coalition protocol after all. Nobody gets anywhere without taking a few strokes. Even the captain has had a paddling or two in her day. None of that matters when Helen Twice steps into my room with that thing in her hand.
“What do you mean nope?”
“I mean I’m not going to let you do that. It’s unnecessary. And there’s been nothing wrong with my performance. That review was bullshit.”
“I don’t have time for this, Ray. Get your butt over the bed and let’s get this done.”
My response does not please her. Nobody says no. I wouldn’t be thrilled if somebody told me no when I was about to paddle them. But that’s the difference. I’m not about to be paddled. I know it. She knows it.
Helen sighs. “I don’t have time for this, Ray. I’m going to push this up the chain. We’ll see how you like it when Sarge gets a hold of you.”
“You do that.”
She gives me a look of annoyance and leaves. I lay back down on the bed, smirking. That’s the problem with half the people in the coalition. They’re weak willed. No force of personality to speak of. Helen Twice is a nice lady and a damn good soldier, but she shouldn’t be in charge of a bag of chips.