At the very crescendo of the spanking Cadet’s furious cries finally turned to pleas for mercy. Gray stopped almost immediately. She had been waiting for that point all along, and it had taken a lot longer to reach than she’d hoped. Cadet’s rebellion had a fire to it that wasn’t going to go out easy.
Gray slid back and kneeled, running her pink palmed hand through her hair, pushing it to the side before resting her hand on her thigh. Cadet squirmed below her, the length of her thighs and the rounds of her bottom a solid red hue. Compared to Gray’s hard body, clad in tight uniform which clung to every line of her body, Cadet was soft and rounded, her curves not yet giving way to the harsh exercise regimen.
Unseen by Cadet, Gray shook her head, her lips thinned in a line which had nothing to do with Cadet’s behavior.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” she said, her voice even as she spoke to the young woman now hiding her face in the covers. “I’m going to give you ten minutes to settle. Then I’m going to come back. If you’ve calmed down enough to talk and apologize for the attitude you took out there, that will be the end of it. If you’re still riled up and wanting to fight me on this, we’ll take this to the next level.”
Cadet made a sound somewhere between a growl and a whimper and Gray didn’t push it. She stood up and left, turning off the light before she shut the door.
She went to get an ice pack from the refrigerator, shaking her head to herself as she went past Grisham and Terra who were sitting on the couch. Gray didn’t look at them directly in case her annoyance was made obvious. Cadet sure knew how to push every button a person had, even if it hurt her. Hell, seemed to Gray that she pushed more buttons the more hurt she was. A totally maladaptive feedback loop, but Gray had seen it before and she knew how to deal with it. Cadet would settle down as soon as she knew, to her very bones, that there was a swift and serious response waiting for her every time she stepped out of line.
“How is she?” Terra asked the question as Gray iced her hand. Previous injuries had left it prone to aching, hence why she usually preferred an implement of some kind. An extended hand spanking literally hurt her about as much as it hurt Cadet.
“She will live, ma’am,” Gray replied. “She’s sore, and I’m not sure if she’s sorry just yet, but…”
“She’s never behaved this badly before,” Grisham grunted.
“She’s never had this much pressure put on her before,” Gray said, turning the ice pack over. “She’s been allowed to get away with the little things, and it’s given her a sense that the rules aren’t really there. I’m teaching her differently.”
“She broke out of a military base before,” Terra interjected. “She has definitely behaved this badly before. And Gray is right. She’s been allowed to get away with some little things, and some really big things.”
Gray nodded curtly. “I have to get back to her. Excuse me, ma’am.”
The moment Gray went back into the bedroom, Grisham turned to Terra.
“Ma’am, all due respect, I think Cadet was right. We don’t need Gray in this unit. If anything, she could prove to be a distraction.”
Terra cocked her head to the side. “Why do you say that?”
Grisham looked at her hands for a long minute, before looking back at Terra. “Because she’s my ex.”
“Ex-instructor?” Terra asked the question hopefully.
Terra’s lips thinned. “That I did not know.”
“I didn’t think it was necessary information, ma’am. We’ve been separated for five years, so…”
“Separated. Not divorced.”
“No, not divorced.”
Terra’s brow lifted in Grisham’s direction. “So she’s not your ex-wife, so much as she is your wife.”
Grisham nodded reluctantly. “We don’t think of it that way, but…”
“And you don’t think you can work with her.”
“She’s asleep,” Gray said quietly, exiting the bedroom. “I think fighting me wore her right out.”
“Good,” Terra nodded. “It seems we have more to talk about. I didn’t realize the extent of your shared history.”
Gray frowned for a second as if she did not know what Terra was talking about, then her expression cleared. “I should have told you, ma’am. I thought Grisham would have.”
“I didn’t know you were going to be recruited,” Grisham replied. “It was a surprise to find you here tonight.”
“Never mind,” Terra interrupted. “I know now. So, ladies, is this a nasty separation? Is this something that truly can’t be worked through?”
“I don’t have a problem working with Grisham, ma’am,” Gray shrugged. “Two tops in one marriage doesn’t work, but that doesn’t change the love.”
Grisham winced, as if Gray’s words hurt her.
Terra looked at the women she had recruited and wondered why she hadn’t seen it before. There was a distinct similarity between them, though they looked quite different. It was a shared quality of spirit. Gray’s nimble physical form an equal and opposite expression of Grisham’s power. They looked right together.
“Well I have two unstable young women here,” Terra said. “Without Sarah and Cadet, this mission falls apart. I need them to be handled effectively. Can you two work together?”
“I’d like that,” Gray said simply.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Grisham replied with a brisk shake of her head. “It was one thing when she was just an instructor, but she’s already taking it out on Cadet.”
“I’m not taking anything out on her,” Gray corrected quickly. “She’s out of control. And she has everyone else in this unit wrapped around her pretty little fingers. She needed every bit of what she just got, and she’ll probably need more. And it’s not her fault she needs more. If she’d had it from the….”
“Grisham is not the reason for Cadet’s behavior. Nor am I,” Terra interrupted. “Cadet is spirited and untrained, and she is far less compliant than she may at first appear. I don’t think obedience is in her nature. In fact, if it were not for certain latent talents, she would have been dismissed during the first Academy streaming period. Cadet is, ironically, not Cadet material.”
The question came in a voice close to a whisper.
The three women looked over to see Cadet standing at the door of the bedroom, a look of pure betrayal on her face.
“I’m not cadet material?” She repeated the question more loudly. “Then why am I here? Why am I getting my ass kicked all over this camp? Why is every day of my life harder than the next? Why am I a fuck toy for every single…” she stopped and drew herself up, looking as fierce as she ever had. “I want to go home. I mean, home, home. I want a shuttle back to my colony. And don’t touch me again. Not any one of you.”
“Cadet…” Terra stood up with the intention of crossing the room to comfort her, but Cadet was not having any of it.
“No!” She shook her head as tears began to course down her face. She hadn’t cried during the punishment, but Terra’s words seemed to have broken her completely.
Gray was the closest, and so it was Gray who intervened.
“You’re not going anywhere but back to bed, Cadet,” she said firmly, unperturbed by the waterworks.
Gray lifted her eyes to the ceiling, murmured something under her breath, then physically bent down and scooped Cadet up from the ground.
“Get me a shuttle and send me home NOW!” Cadet’s demand was muffled by the closing of the bedroom door.
Grisham shook her head and let out a deep breath. “Ma’am, you could recruit a hundred instructors and guards and I don’t think you’d have enough personnel to keep that girl in line. Her emotions are so far from being in check…”
“Her feelings are hurt,” Terra said. “She wants to be a good soldier so badly, she doesn’t realize how incredible her other talents are. I’ll talk to her in the morning. Tonight, she’s Gray’s to deal with.”
“So you’re just going to let Gray beat her into submission?”
“I don’t hear any beating going on,” Terra pointed out. “Is this really about Cadet, Grisham? Or is this about you and Gray? Are you worried Gray might be a better handler than you are for Cadet?”
“Oh I know she’ll be a better handler,” Grisham said. “Cadet’s soft and young and the only thing Gray can’t handle is what she can’t handle.”
“Like you,” Terra said, her voice warm with understanding.
“Gray likes to dominate,” Grisham agreed. “And I’m hard to control.”
“I’m sure you are,” Terra nodded. “Interesting that Gray chose to marry the one woman she could never entirely control, if she wants to control more than anything.”
“What are you saying, ma’am?”
“I’m saying people don’t always want what they seem to want, and sometimes, having to deal with situations you don’t want to be in, turns out to be an invaluable experience. But Grisham… this mission has to take precedence. If you don’t think you can work with Gray, I need to know.”