“Thanks for getting me out of there.” Sarah slid down next to Cadet, who was standing on the porch, next to the bench. The state of her rear prevented her from sitting down, and made moving pretty uncomfortable too. The moment of triumph she’d experienced in the briefing had since soured. She didn’t know why exactly. Probably because the things that were most upsetting her were still very much in play. She’d found a quiet place outside, away from Terra and Gray who were deep in the planning still. Grisham was somewhere else on the base, doing something important, no doubt.
“Grisham said you made an argument for my release,” Sarah said. “I was kind of surprised.”
“Well you’d been locked down for ages,” Cadet said. “And it’s gross in there.”
“It is,” Sarah agreed.
“They expect you to work for them, but they lock you up every time you annoy them,” Cadet continued. “Such bullshit.”
“Wow, you got feisty,” Sarah noted. “And on my account. Didn’t know you cared.”
Cadet gave a little shrug. “The sooner we collect all these relics or whatever, the sooner we can be done with this mission.”
Sarah pushed back the short shining wall of hair that was threatening to block her view and looked at Cadet curiously. “You seem really different. What happened while I was away and locked up?”
“… nothing,” Cadet said, looking out into the forest.
She was glad she hadn’t answered when a second later, the front door opened and Terra and Gray exited in deep conversation and made their way down the path.
“Who is that?” Sarah gestured toward Gray. “She looks like a beast.”
“That’s Gray. The woman who is beating my ass and calling it training,” Cadet said. “And, Grisham’s wife.”
Sarah turned wide blue eyes on Cadet. “No. Fucking. Way.”
“Yes way,” Cadet said. “Grisham’s married.”
“Funny she didn’t tell you that before you ended up tongue deep inside her,” Sarah said with a smirking shake of her head. “What does Gray think about that?”
“I don’t know that she actually knows,” Cadet mused. “Think I should tell her?”
“If you do, please do it when I’m there,” Sarah said. “I’d kind of like to see Grisham get her ass kicked.”
“I’d probably have mine handed to me as well,” Cadet said miserably. “That’s what happens around here.”
“Getting depressed, Cadet?”
“No. I don’t think so. I don’t know.”
“You’re not as much fun to fuck with when you seem sad,” Sarah said, nudging Cadet’s hip. “Cheer up.”
“That’s what I am, huh, an amusement for this unit. Or no, what did you call me a while back? A sex toy. Yeah.”
“Oh I was teasing,” Sarah said. “Seriously, what happened? You’re miserable.”
“I’m not cadet material, according to Terra.”
“Good. Who wants to be cadet material? Brainless little suckups,” Sarah said. “You’re too smart to be cadet material.”
“You think I’m smart?”
Sarah gave Cadet a little smirk. “I’m not going to sit here and compliment you all day. You know you’re smart. Being smart is what got you into the Academy, I’ll bet. Coming from a corn field in the middle of nowhere, it’s about all that could have got you in.”
“But see, that doesn’t make sense. If cadets are stupid, then why would being smart get me into the Academy?”
“True,” Sarah said. “I don’t know, maybe you seemed dumber than you really are?”
“Thanks,” Cadet snorted. In spite of everything, she was actually starting to feel a bit better. Sarah’s non-compliments actually helped in some weird way. “You know, I volunteered us to take the lead on this mission. We’re going to infiltrate the rebel base posing as converts.”
“Really?” Sarah grinned. “If they make a good enough pitch, I might even actually join up with ’em.”
“Yeah, like if it turns out rebel converts don’t get beaten every other second,” Cadet said.
“Or if it turns out they don’t get locked up just for having an opinion.”
“Or if it turns out they don’t fuck you and then turn out to be married,” Cadet glowered.
“Or if it turns out that they don’t genetically engineer you and raise you in a military freak show,” Sarah added.
Cadet looked over at Sarah. What had happened to her wasn’t fair. At all. Thinking about it made Cadet feel a little guilty for complaining about her own circumstances.
“Don’t pity me,” Sarah said quickly.
I hope everyone is staying safe out there, especially anyone affected by any of the current hurricanes, floods, wildfires, or earthquakes. If you don’t already have several days worth of drinking water stored somewhere, make sure you correct that, and if you can, an emergency kit containing dried and canned foodstuffs, torches, matches, batteries, blankets etc. You know the drill. It makes all the difference in the world after an unpredictable event.