I hope that you enjoy this week’s episode and that you cheer Aeron and Sissy during class.
As always, please excuse the typos,
Act 2 – Scene 1
Renee was so cool.
Although I knew that already ‘cause I’d met her, a lot of the classes on protection tactics used examples of how Renee had extracted POIs from places with a whole lot of mean people with guns and she held every record CIG had in shooting since somebody, who just went by Bess, had set them all a while ago. I even saw Colonel Charles Black, Renee’s dad on some of the medal tables and he seemed to win a lot like Bess.
I found myself looking at Bess’s name a lot sure that a lady wouldn’t have been allowed in CIG back then but I could imagine that if she had been a lady, she would have been as cool as Renee.
Still, next to the wall with the medals on display, there was a memorial wall etched with names of the CIG folks who had been lost. On it was Bess and Colonel Charles Black and I couldn’t get those names out of my head. His name and hers kept drawing me back… Like I wanted to touch the wall… and I’d find I’d been there for hours without noticing… It was too much like when I had freaky feelings and I didn’t want my burdens bothering me so I told myself not to go anywhere near the large presentation hall. If I weren’t near there I wouldn’t be wanting to touch the wall… and I’d stop wandering in half way through a class and being forced to do the assault course, again… Sissy and me were getting close to Bess’s record for how many times a person was made to run the course as punishment.
I sighed as I got to the classroom near the presentation hall and saw my class getting debriefed by the tutor. Guess I’d been staring at the memorial wall again.
“Marney, you are at the bottom of the group,” the tutor said with a glint in her eye. “You need to pass protection training or you’ll need to leave.”
Sissy blinked, her eyes full of panic and hurt. She told me a lot about how she wanted to follow Renee and be the best in CIG so she could help people. She wanted it enough I could feel the need to pass from her when she was the other side of the room… and I could feel how she was about ready to cry.
“We don’t need her,” the chump with his buddies around him said. “She couldn’t manage to direct us to the right building.”
His buddies nodded like it was Sissy’s fault.
“I don’t get how Sissy is bottom of the group,” I said as I strode over ready for the tutor to get mad at me. “I didn’t even do the exercise… whatever it was.”
The tutor glowered at me. She had really bushy eyebrows which were partly gray, partly brown with a scowl that old Mrs. Stein would have been proud of.
“Lorelei,” she said with a grunt a lot like my father when he used to talk to me as a teenager. “You already passed the exercise.”
“I did?” I asked then shook my head. “I don’t remember.”
The chump laughed at me. “Lorelei is an elite agent… can’t you just tell?”
His buddies laughed.
“You’re an elite jerk,” I muttered at him and folded my arms. I tried to ignore him but some folks needed pickle juice.
Sissy wandered over to me. “You had to perform your task on your own. You took the POI to the Presentation Hall… remember?”
Guess that was why I got stuck by the wall. “I did?”
Sissy nodded. “You escorted one of the nurses.”
I put my hand through my hair because I couldn’t remember meeting a nurse let alone taking her anywhere. “Did she get there okay?”
The tutor studied me. “Yes.”
The chump smirked. “Which is why you get to be alone, Lorelei. Who would want to work with you?”
“I would,” Sissy said and smiled up at me. “At least she can actually complete a training task without setting off the sensors.”
The chump sneered at her, all muscle, attitude, and a mean glint in his eyes. “What would you know, Marney. You can’t even manage to stumble without falling over.”
His buddies laughed again.
Sissy’s lip wobbled. She was real nice and tried to help when somebody needed her to but the chump and his buddies picked on her, ignored her, and it hurt her.
Reminded me of Sam. He was too much like Sam.
“Sissy can make it around the course faster than you and your dumb butt and she wouldn’t have messed up a training task, that’s your job.” I puffed myself up and folded my arms. “Besides, whenever she works with me, Sissy always passes. I ain’t seen a lot of folks pass when they are with you.”
The tutor sat on her desk and watched. I felt that she liked to watch the class interact because she was looking for details to report to Frei.
The chump stomped up to me. “You shouldn’t even be here. Your mom get annoyed that you were stuck at home ‘cause no one wanted to marry you?”
I laughed. He sounded like Mary Goss now. “My mom was too busy working here to notice.” I shook my head. Most of the staff all knew I was Lilia’s daughter and they got glared at by me when they mentioned I was but the recruits didn’t seem to know a whole lot. “An’ I get you want Sissy’s attention but she’s kinda busy to notice you right now.”
The chump marched up and stuck his face in front of mine. “You got the talk like you’re a man and you try to be one… but you aren’t, Lorelei, you’re just a messed up little girl.”
I raised my eyebrows. “You’re mad I ain’t a guy?”
Sissy marched up to the side of me. “He’s being offensive and discriminatory.”
The tutor perched on her table like she wanted to pull out candy or some chips and a large drink.
“I’m just saying the truth. Lorelei doesn’t know what she is. She thinks she’s friends with Commander Black; she thinks her mom was in charge, and she thinks that her muscles could outdo a guy’s.” He glared into my eyes.
“I know I can outdo your puny arms.” I flexed my biceps. “You couldn’t even lift yourself up the assault course wall.”
He clenched his teeth at me and rolled his shoulders. “My arms aren’t puny.”
“Sure-as-shoots they are,” I waved to Sissy without taking my eyes off him. I could feel his dislike in waves but it was different to Sam’s. This guy wasn’t all mean inside but he weren’t clever neither. “Want to try out bench-pressing me?”
His buddies looked at each other like they knew the guy would lose but they didn’t want him to know that’s what they thought. Funny, whether it was in high school, Serenity or back home, mean folks didn’t seem to have a whole lot of their own thoughts. They just followed dumb chumps.
“I want to put you right,” he muttered, eyes flaring with that dislike again. “You need to go back home, little girl.”
Sissy cleared her throat. “Again, that is discriminatory and you should be disciplined.”
The tutor just sat and watched.
“Maybe that’s what CIG thinks,” he said to Sissy. “Lorelei shouldn’t be here.”
I was kinda with him. I wanted to be back home but then my mom needed to look after my half-sisters and I wouldn’t be able to hang out with Renee if I was home. The more she weren’t in Boot Camp and I learned about her, the more I really wanted to hang out with her. She must have thought I was dumb.
“Aeron is more than qualified to be here and has excelled better than any of us so you’re wrong.” Sissy glared up at him as if trying to muscle between us and take him on herself. “You’re wrong and you’re out of line and CIG officers do not tolerate intolerance of any kind.” She wagged her finger at him. “Colonel Charles Black said that.”
I smiled. Sissy knew pretty much every detail about both Renee and her dad. “And he was a hero.”
The tutor nodded.
“What do you know,” he snapped at Sissy. “You could barely scrape the entry requirements.”
Sissy’s lip wobbled again.
I glared at the chump. “And she didn’t need to cheat.”
He blinked. “I did not cheat.”
“Didn’t say you did,” I said in a voice like my dad used to use when he knew I’d messed up. I weren’t sure if the guy cheated but he seemed to spend a lot of time picking on Sissy and me without knowing much.
“She’s lying,” he said to the tutor.
“I didn’t say nothin’,” I said to Sissy and winked.
His buddies eyed him like they didn’t trust him.
I turned from him and nodded to Sissy. “You want to rerun the task with me?”
Sissy smiled up at me. “Why would you do the task again?”
I shrugged. “Can’t remember doing it the first time so it’ll help me.”
The tutor nodded and stood up but then the chump gripped hold of my arm.
Don’t know who she thinks she is. She acts like she’s so much better than me. Like she doesn’t want to be here. Like she is only doing this for fun. She’s not better than me. She’s a girl. She’s just a stupid girl.
I studied him as he snapped his hand away. Sure, he had a problem with me but he had a bigger problem with Sissy. She didn’t think she was better than anybody and she spent her evenings trying to go over and over the lesson notes and defense moves until I could recite and perform them with her.
“Let go of me,” I said in a calm voice like Renee used when she was dealing with somebody who needed the pillow prison. “You need to find some place to cool off.”
He stared at his hand. “Cool off?” His eyes filled with anger and he pulled back his fist—
Sissy, at all five foot flipped him onto the floor by his hand.
I stared at her, the tutor stared at her, and pretty much the whole class. He weren’t light.
“A CIG officer never strikes their teammates,” she recited with her nostrils flaring and her auburn hair jutting out like it was as mad as her. “A CIG officer upholds integrity and honesty, kindness and humility.”
“And they don’t use that body position when they want to hit somebody ‘cause they are off balance,” I said hoping I got that bit right. Sissy recited a lot of lesson notes.
“What is going on now?” Frei said, striding into the classroom. She stopped, spotted Sissy holding the chump in an arm lock and twitched her lips.
Everybody, including the chump on the floor, saluted.
“Marney, Lorelei, and Hanking have a problem,” the tutor said in a shocked voice. “And Marney passes self defense.”
I grinned at Sissy. “Told you that you would pass.”
Sissy shrugged, still saluting.
“Lorelei,” Frei said with an icy look in her eyes but a twitch to her lips. “You and Marney can head to the assault course.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Either that or I will send you to Doctor Montgomery.” She nodded. “The psychiatrist.”
I scowled. “I don’t get why.”
“Your saluting is crazy,” Frei shot at me and strode to the chump. “Hanking, you can head to the cells… for a week.”
He got off the floor. “Yes, ma’am; sorry, ma’am.”
I rolled my eyes. He didn’t have a problem with Frei being in charge or being female.
“I saw that Lorelei,” Frei said as the chump ran out of the classroom. “You think knowing how to salute or respond is unnecessary?”
“No, ma’am,” I said, trying to salute. I didn’t get why it was a crazy salute. “I’m just kinda shocked how easily Sissy flipped him onto the floor.”
“Attacking your classmates is not acceptable,” Frei said to Sissy in her emotionless tone but her lips twitched like she really wanted to smile. “Even if they are idiots.”
“No, Ma’am,” Sissy mumbled. “I’m very sorry, Ma’am.”
“I doubt that.” Frei looked her up and down then pursed her lips at me.
“I know, I’m going already.” I sighed and lumbered to the door with Sissy following. “That was some move.”
Sissy waited until we were out of the building then leaned up to my ear. “It wasn’t a CIG move… I got it from watching one of the videos of Renee on a training drill… when she was a recruit.” She winked at me.
“Self defense?” I asked as we reached the start of the assault course.
“No,” Sissy whispered as we both took a breath. “One of her classmates bugged her so she flipped him.”
I chuckled. I would have liked to have seen that but… well… me and electrics. “I’ll make sure I tell her you used her move.”
Sissy smiled at me in the same way she usually did when I mentioned Renee. She thought Renee was MIA but then a lot of folks seemed to. “I am sure she’d tell me the same as Frei.”
“You kidding?” I shook my head as we headed to the nets. “She’s all kinds of feisty.”
Sissy chuckled as she headed into the water. “You think so?”
I nodded. “Yup, she’d be proud.” I eyed the water and tried to ignore how it felt like it was sucking at me as I slid through it. “And so would Bess, whoever she was… she must have been real fit running the assault course this much.”
Sissy puffed out her cheeks. “I’ve never been so fit.”
“See, you are a great CIG officer already.” I smiled and tried not to glance over at the presentation hall. I didn’t much like to think of all the officers on that memorial wall or Sissy being in situations where she could join them. Renee carried a lot of hurt and I didn’t want Sissy doing the same.
I sighed as I lifted her up the assault course wall. Maybe she could be with Renee and me and we could protect her too. I tried to push the thought out of my head and cheer her as she hauled herself up. I felt the need to protect her… So, I guess protection duties were the area I liked most. I grinned. Then I could hang out with Renee and help Sissy.
Sounded like more fun than being on the investigations team with the chump anyhow.