You shrink back a little in your seat and shake your head almost imperceptibly. As much as you’re happy to see Terra, what has happened to Boris, not to mention how much care Grisham has shown you makes you reluctant to leave her side. What if you’re whisked off somewhere else and never see her again?
“I think you and I should talk first, ma’am,” Grisham says.
“Oh, you do?” Terra turns to Grisham, holding herself tall and speaking in an icy tone.
“Yes, ma’am,” Grisham says with taut professionalism. “You left your cadet in my care and I’ve done what I could for her over the last day or so, but she needs a lot more than what I can give her in twenty four hours.”
“What has been going on here since I left?” Terra looks at you, then back at Grisham. “I left you with permission to discipline her, that’s all.”
“She was a handful at first,” Grisham says. “But the minute you left, it got pretty obvious that the problem isn’t with her. She’s a good girl.”
“I never said she wasn’t.”
“She’s a good girl who doesn’t know how to wear her uniform properly, follow orders, recognize a chain of command, or take care of her basic needs,” Grisham continues. “I’ve got socks with more military experience than she has. She deserves to be in the care of someone who will give her full training before putting her in the line of fire.”
“I see,” Terra says, her tone even more formal than before. “She’s not safe in my care, she doesn’t wear the uniform properly… but in your care, she’s wearing a t-shirt and missing her pants entirely,” she notes dryly. “I can’t see how this is a significant improvement.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Grisham says. “I don’t want to argue with you ma’am, but…”
“You’re doing a poor impression of it,” Terra interjects. “You’re interfering with a special operation and I don’t appreciate it. I will be making a full report to your superior.”
“Go ahead,” Grisham says. “And I’ll be sure to make a report of my own, about green Academy cadets used as canon fodder for special projects.”
Terra and Grisham stare one another down, brilliant blue eyes meeting determined brown.
There’s a long, very tense pause, then Terra draws in a sharp breath and nods to herself, as if a decision has been made.
“Congratulations, Grisham, you just volunteered for my unit,” she announces. “I’m one man down now, and as you’re so very interested in playing nursemaid to cadet here, I’d be foolish not to take you on board.”
“You want me to submit to your command, or lack thereof?” Grisham snipes back. “I don’t think so. I have a post here.”
“You had a post here,” Terra corrects her. “I can allocate resources as I see fit, it’s one of the privileges which comes with rank.” Her voice becomes dangerously soft, and a not entirely pleasant smile crosses her lips. “You know all about rank, don’t you, Grisham. It’s what I’m pulling now.”
Grisham looks angry, her eyes are narrowed and there’s a flash of red across her cheeks that doesn’t bode well.
“You’re not going to be insubordinate, are you, Grisham?” Terra taunts her gently. “That would be a bad example for this innocent green little cadet you’ve taken such a fancy to.”