“Go easy on her,” you say as Gray reaches you. “She was just trying to…”
“Disobey orders?” Instructor Gray growls the words at you. She has the rod in her hand and you know that either you or Jodie is probably going to be feeling it very soon.
“She doesn’t understand how this all works,” you say. “It’s got to be strange for her, coming from a rebel group to…”
Gray pushes you to the side firmly, but not roughly. “She knows what ‘come here’ means,” she says, grasping Jodie by the front of her shirt. “Go home, Cadet. See you tomorrow.”
Jodie squeals and squirms, making the most pathetic whimpering noises you’ve ever heard in your life. You just can’t watch her get hit.
“Please… put her down,” you plead. “She doesn’t deserve that rod.”
“You know, you’ve been very opinionated, Cadet,” Gray says, releasing Jodie. “Maybe you should be responsible for disciplining her, if you know so much about what she does and doesn’t need.”
Gray closes the rod and crosses her arms over her chest. “In fact, maybe you should take over her rehabilitation, seeing as you are clearly so experienced in these matters.”
“No,” Gray says. “No buts. She’s yours. I expect to see her here on time tomorrow, and anything she does between now and then is on your head, Cadet. You will be punished for her transgressions.”
Your jaw drops as Gray turns around and leaves you with Jodie standing next to you.
“Oh my god,” Jodie grins. “Thank you so much, Cadet. This is awesome!”
You look at her. “Jodie, I can’t do this. I have my own unit…”
“You have to,” she points out. “Until tomorrow at least.”
You nod. You suppose you do. “Come on then,” you say as you turn to walk back to the cabin. Jodie follows happily, rambling about how nice you are and how awesome this is and how great everything is going to be. You’re not quite so sure about all of that.
“How was training today?” Terra asks you get in the door.
You’re simultaneously nervous and relieved to see Terra. Terra will know what to do about this situation, you hope.
“I didn’t get beaten today,” you say. “So I got that going for me.”
“Good,” Terra smiles. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“There is something though,” you add.
“Gray, sort of… gave me someone to look after.”
“Someone to look after? Who?”
“Me!” Jodie appears from behind you. “I’m Jodie.”
“Hello, Jodie,” Terra says politely, her expression vaguely quizzical.
“This is Captain Terra,” you say.
“Oh, so I bow, right?”
You’re about to answer, when you see the look of mischief in Jodie’s eye. She’s just messing with you. Now that she’s happy, she is pretty. She has a cute face, her nose dotted with freckles, her blue eyes framed with naturally dark lashes.
“How did this come about, Cadet?” Terra’s inquiry is pointed.
“Cadet saved me,” Jodie says. “That woman was SO mean. I mean, wow. She has ISSUES. Anyway, Cadet told her to stop being so mean to me, and then the woman said Cadet could look after me. So I really traded up.”
Terra cocks her head to the side and looks at you with an expression you find hard to read. “Cadet was telling Gray what to do, was she?”
“Oh yeah, she was like NO, GRAY!” Jodie exclaims. “And then she was all IF YOU TOUCH HER, I WILL KICK YOUR ASS!”
“It wasn’t like that,” you say quickly. Jodie has a really big mouth, and apparently, a talent for exaggeration.
“Yeah it was. It was so cool!”
“I can only imagine,” Terra says, her tone still quite reserved. You try to apologize with your eyes, but it’s too late. Jodie has romped across the room and has picked up the remote to flick on a program to watch.
“I love this show, Talking Sponge Shorts. So good,” she says, putting her feet up on the couch. “Are there snacks here, Cadet?”
Terra reaches over and gently, but firmly guides Jodie’s legs off the couch, and turns the show off.
“Sorry, Jodie,” she says. “I think we better return you to your barracks.”
“You can’t,” Jodie says. “The woman said that Cadet has to be responsible for me until tomorrow. Any trouble I get into in the meantime will get her in trouble. And I usually get in SO much trouble in the barracks. I mean ALL. THE. TIME.”
“I see,” Terra says, pressing her lips together. “Well, then I guess Cadet is going to have to send you to the showers to clean up.”
“Uhm, yeah,” you say, taking the hint. “Hit the showers, Jodie.”
“I don’t even need a shower,” she argues. “We didn’t shower for weeks in the wild. It was awesome.”
“Well, we shower here,” you say. “So go get cleaned up.”
“Nah,” Jodie says.
Terra is watching, her cheek dimpling. She didn’t seem happy at all at first, but now she seems to be enjoying this a little more than you really like.