Awesome poll results, totally not what I expected 🙂 I thought way more people would be in favor of running to Terra, and way fewer people would be so eager for push ups. Seeing as we practically had a tie, I’ve written an installment which covers both. Hope you enjoy!
Angry at how she’s talking to you, but eager to prove yourself, you start doing push ups. That doesn’t mean you do them quietly. “I might be spoiled,” you grunt. “But at least I’m not a bully who sucker hits people.”
“You think I’m a bully, Cadet?” You can hear the smirk in her voice. “Good. I don’t care if you hate me. Hell, it’s better if you do. I’m here to make sure when you meet an enemy, you know how to kill them before they kill you.”
You make it through the first thirty push ups on sheer adrenaline, but your arms start to fatigue and you don’t have the strength or the breath to keep arguing. You keep struggling, trying to get to fifty. You don’t want to give this woman the satisfaction of seeing you fail, but around number thirty six, your arms give out and you more or less face plant against the gym floor.
“Up,” she says. “A hundred squats. Go.”
You climb to your feet, glad that your arms are going to get a rest. The squats are a lot easier to do, but by fifty you’re starting to feel them and by eighty your butt and thighs are burning and by the time you get to a hundred you feel all floopy in practically every muscle you have.
“Okay,” Gray says. “Let’s get started.”
Started? You’re already finished. She’s managed to deplete most of your muscle capacity. Your shoulders and hips and the associated muscle groups are threatening to cramp. She comes to stand in front of you, so tall that you have to look up to look her in the eye.
“Let’s see what you’ve got, Cadet.”
“What does that even mean?” You shrug the question at her.
“It means I’m giving you a chance at a clear shot. You were angry before. Let’s see what that brings out in you.”
You look at her. Even if you weren’t exhausted, you wouldn’t try to hit her. She’s one of the most intimidating women you’ve ever met. Something in the set of her eyes, the hard lines of her face. There’s not much capacity for mercy there.
“Uhm, no thank you, ma’am,” you refuse.
“Nicer manners, but still refusing to follow orders,” she says. “You’re here to learn to fight, Cadet.”
“Then maybe you should start teaching me.”
Your reply comes out a lot sharper and more smart-ass than you really intended. Her brows, one of them broken where a white scar runs through it, rise toward her hairline.
“Oh I’ll teach you alright, Cadet,” she grinds out. Her hand goes to her waist. She plucks a small cylinder from her belt and shakes it. It extends into a long, whippy rod, about a foot and a half long. It makes a swiiissshhh sound as it sweeps through the air.
You know what’s coming and you have zero intention of staying around for it to happen. Fuck. This. You make a break for the gym door. Before you can get out her hand grasps the back of your uniform and you’re pulled back by Gray. She’s laughing, as if she’s enjoying your struggles.
“Flight isn’t bad if you don’t know how to fight,” she says, hauling you back into the middle of the gym with long strides. “But by the time I’m done with you, you’ll know how to fight. One of these days, you might even get up the courage to take a swing before you run.”
You have no idea what she’s talking about, but it doesn’t really matter because she has you by the collar and she’s bringing that whippy implement down against your ass and thighs over your uniform. You squirm and thrash, but it doesn’t help at all. Nor do the yelps and squeals that escape your lips as she punishes you. The pain is sharp and insistent and, just like you figured it would be – merciless. No matter how much you shout and gasp, she keeps that rod biting against your body. Tears start to fill your eyes as you reach the very ends of your tolerance.
“Don’t cry, cadet,” she hisses, her lips right next to your ear as she manhandles you. “Crying isn’t going to help you. You want the pain to stop? Do something.”
You start to get angry. Very angry. Angry enough to actually do something.
“Get off me!” You shout the words as you drive your elbow back into her solar plexus. You feel her stomach yield, a rush of air leaving her mouth. Her grip weakens and you spin around, aiming a kick at her inner upper thigh. It connects, the flat of your shin meeting the sensitive part of her body. The force of it makes her hop and stumble backwards.
The look of shock on her face would be funny if you weren’t so wound up. You did not want to do that.
“I know how to fight,” you say, tears of anger and frustration beading in your eyes. “I fought Boris almost every damn day when we were growing up. He was a bully just like you.”
“I don’t know who Boris is,” Gray says. “But I’d say you owe him thanks. That was good, Cadet. Hell, that was great. That was a neat combination!”
You can hardly believe it. She’s not mad at you for hitting her. She’s actually smiling. Her eyes have warmed and there’s something like respect in them. You wipe your face on your sleeve and sniff away the rest of the tears.
“I think you’ve got some potential,” she says, snapping the disciplinary rod closed. “Let’s get to work.”