You wake a few hours later, still curled up with Grisham. It’s pretty dark outside and you can hear rain drizzling against the leaves of the trees at the mouth of the cave. It’s a nice sound accompanied by a wet, earthy smell and for the first time in a while, you feel a nice warm fuzzy relaxed feeling.
“Morning, Cadet,” she says, leaning down to kiss your forehead. “How are you feeling now?”
“Better,” you admit. “I needed a nap.”
“Mhm… Terra shouldn’t be too far off with the transport,” Grisham says. “So you get up, grab something to eat and finish packing, okay?”
You squirm up to a sitting position and give her a puppy dog look. “Or I could keep cuddling with you?”
Grisham smiles and her arm wraps around your waist. “Five minutes, then you’re going to be following my orders.”
“Fair enough,” you agree, cuddling up with her all over again. You cuddle in comfortable silence for a while, the sound of the rain lulling you into deep relaxation.
“This must be weird for you,” you say as the thought strikes you. “I mean, with Terra and Sarah, and her being sort of like you… did… uhm… was your life, like Sarah’s?”
“I was lucky,” Grisham says. “Back when they started the augmented program they didn’t raise us in the sort of facilities Sarah was subjected to. We were given to foster parents at birth and raised pretty normally. I got to have a life, and obviously, the genetic advantage made it a pretty easy one in a lot of ways. Joining the military was a natural choice for me. I wanted to help people and I knew I had what I thought were natural physical abilities that would make joining up easy. I was five years in before they told me exactly what I was.”
“That must have been a trip!”
“I knew I was adopted, but I had no idea why,” Grisham says. “So yes, it was weird, but it wasn’t as weird as it could have been. What happened to me was… I guess technically unethical, but I never felt harmed by it. I got to have a family. I got to be loved. Sarah and her sisters came a good fifteen years after me. In that time, the people running the program changed. The goals changed. They weren’t making people anymore. They were manufacturing tools. What they did to her, what they might still be doing – it’s evil.”
“Yeah,” you agree. “It is. Kind of explains a lot about Sarah.”
“And a lot about Terra,” Grisham adds, shaking her head. “They screwed up a whole lot of lives when they did what they did.” She sighs. “I’m not going to lie, Cadet. I wish you weren’t mixed up in this. It’s not your fight and you have a really good chance of getting hurt no matter how hard we try to protect you.”
“I went to the academy knowing I could be hurt,” you say. “That’s part of the job. I can accept that. I wish you’d respect me enough to accept it too.”
There’s a moment of silence as Grisham digests your reply. “Well, I can’t argue with that,” she says, dropping another kiss on your cheek. “Okay, up you get, Cadet. I want this place packed and ready to go.”
For once, you obey without further question.