quarta-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2008

In the Army V

One night, she was on her combat training at the gym when Kane was passing by and saw the light. She stopped the workout at the moment she saw him enter the gym. Somehow she felt uneasy with his presence.
- Sir!
- As you were, soldier! …Always working out! You may be addicted, you know?!
She smiled.

- I guess you could use someone to workout with, you’re lucky I’m here! – He said smiling and taking away his hat.
- Thank you, sir! It’s not necessary!
- Yes, it is. Finally, I’lll have the chance to fight you on the mat. …You’re not bad at all on that, you know?!
- Really sir, I was just finished…!
- I wasn’t asking… soldier.
- Yes, sir.

And they started the workout, fighting. She felt strange; after all he was the authority! She was just defending herself from his strikes.
-  There’s no doubt you defend very well, Tollman! The question is: can you also attack?
She smiled and accepted the challenge.

Kane fought very well, she thought. Well, he should. At a certain point she finally knocked him on the floor and used her elbow to threat his throat like he has already seen before. She smiled, looked him in the eyes and somehow started loosing the smile. Boy, she was never that close and it felt… well, it felt like some kind of chemistry set! She quickly left the uneasy position.
- No! – He said. – Come back here. Let me tell you something.
She was confused for a moment.
- Really, come here! Put your elbow back. Let me show you something!
And so she did.
- …You have the wise habit of keeping a safety distance from your opponent – that’s clever of you! But I’ve seen you doing this move before and you loose your safety perimeter here! One can easily grab you, see? – He said putting his hand on her neck. – If your opponent has big strong hands, you don’t stand a chance! And in this place, well, you will surely have a man on the other side, so the odds of it happening are very high. I don’t know if your hand’s strength is a weakness or if you just prefer it that way but you could grab my neck instead of using your elbow. – He said guiding her hand to his neck. - This way, you weaken your safety but you don’t loose all of it and you get to see easily if something else happens. Got that?

She nodded. She was listening to him at the same time she was listening to her body and her mind. She finally got up.
- Thank you! – She said with a hint of a smile on her face.

As he was standing up, she was prepared to leave.
- I think…
But he continued the training interrupting her. She was just defending again and so he was kind of pushing her behind. It was a funny dance of hands.
- You think…? – He asked her to go on while keeping the fight. And her back reached the wall with him all around and nowhere to move.
- I think it was very good today… productive! …At least for me…! The training, I mean!... – She ended to say a bit confused, not to say threatened, by his eyes… that kept looking at her and kind of smiling with her uneasiness.

For some moments they just kept looking at each other. Then his eyes were attracted to her mouth, to her lips, that were saying: - I think we better call it off for today…
But his eyes looked into hers and there… there just was a different message. Then he kissed her. She rationally started to resist it and even struggled but then she just let herself go with that feeling inside.

At the end of an intense kiss, they were closely looking at each other, maybe trying to make something out of it. And worried about several things that suddenly came to her mind, she broke that silence.
- You shouldn’t have done that…sir!

That word brought him back to the place they were in. There were different kinds of thoughts in his mind and he didn’t quite know what to do. He stepped back.
- No… you’re right! I shouldn’t have…! – He replied.

He started walking to the door and after a few steps he turned around to her again. Then he seemed to have decided what to say.
- That never happened!… soldier. – He said acknowledging what she would have meant by that and leaving.

Her heart was beating fast and her breathing was still heavy. She couldn’t forget the moment his lips were getting close to hers, almost touching, and her heart beating fast!… She knew he was hot, she had already caught herself with one thought or another about him but she wasn’t being reasonable, she thought. She came a long way to get there and, boy, she was loving it! She wouldn’t jeopardize all that for some silly weakness! Even wanting to repeat that moment, she couldn’t allow that to happen.

In the following days, first sergeant Kane didn’t know if he would nag her or not. Sometimes he exaggerated, others almost ignored her. Concerning her workout incursions into the night, sometimes she didn’t even go trying to avoid him.

terça-feira, 12 de fevereiro de 2008

In the Army IV

There was a female nurse that came to her as soon as she got in.
- Hi! A new face in here!
Kris smiled and lifted her hands.
- What have you got there? Let me see those hands! Ooh… what happened?
- Some broken jar on the floor.
- I see. – The nurse said looking at her. - You still have some pieces of glass here; I’m sorry but it’s gonna hurt!
Christine didn’t answer, her mind was somewhere else.

- What’s your name? – She finally asked the nurse.
- Gloria! – She seemed happy just for the question itself and showed a big smile. – And yours?
- Tollman… Christopher.
- Nice to meet you Christopher.

Christine thought that was strange, she was just using their first names.
- So… Gloria, how long have you been here?
- Around two years… two and a half!...
- Do you like it here?
- I love it! Everybody’s nice to me, I help you guys while you’re here, I get to know lots of people… it’s very nice!
Christine was glad that everybody had a different taste.
- There! It’s cleansed! Let me protect those wounds now! … You have nice hands, you know?! – She said smiling. – And you’re nice too!
- …Thanks. – Christine thought she was smiling a bit too much at her. And somehow she seemed too close to her. She felt uncomfortable with that.
- Do you have a girlfriend? – She asked.
- … Not really, no!
- Really?!
She nodded looking at the wounds kind of trying to remind the nurse what she was there for. But she kept on with that kind of questions and behaviour. Although impersonating a man Christine wasn’t ready for that and she had to do something about it.

- Are you flirting with me, Gloria? – Christine dared to ask.
- Would you like that? – She smiled.
- You wouldn’t want to!
- Why’s that?
- Trust me on this!
- Well, that’s up to me, isn’t it? – She continued showing her claws and teeth in a figure of speech. To Christine it felt as if the nurse was ready to jump at any time, not to attack – well, not in that way – but to ask for something else, something inappropriate.

In the meantime, Kane was picking on a recruit, for a change, when another sergeant suddenly came to him.
- Where is Tollman?
- The first aid station.
- This one?
- Yeah, why?
- Isn’t Gloria in there? She’s not in the second!
For some reason they laughed.
- Go back to training, private! – Kane said to the soldier he was picking on and that was still close to them.
- Yes, sir!
- She wouldn’t tell, would she? – The sergeant asked.
- She won’t tell, she has orders not to.
- Even under pressure? You know how… convincing Gloria can be!
- To men, yes, I agree. – He said smiling.
- Let me put it this way: you know how… persistent can Gloria be sometimes! Our girl – he said in a lower tone of voice and looking around for someone close – may not like it at all!

Kane looked at him, thinking. He seemed to have understood what the other sergeant meant with that and was imagining the possible scene. Although he felt somehow amused with those pictures, he was trying to decide whether to do something about it or not.
- I think it’s better to check it out. – The other said.
- I’ll go! – Kane finally said. – Stay here and keep an eye on them.

Meanwhile Gloria was still showing her claws to Kris.
- I hope you don’t have to come here again for any cuts or bleedings but I do hope you come and visit me!
- …
First sergeant Kane entered at the right moment.
- Well, well, well! Look who’s here! Can I take care of you, sergeant?

Christine was thinking Gloria just liked being that way, provoking them. She was being a woman in the middle of all those men, just like the first sergeant have said. Now she understood that comment wasn’t about her – she caused no trouble – but about other women like Gloria.

- I’m fine, thanks Gloria! And how are private Tollman’ hands?
- Ooh! – And she said lowering the tone of voice, joking about it – You must be good! If first sergeant Kane comes here for a soldier… hmm… he must have you under his wing. I wonder why!?... You must be good here! …Even better…! – She said turning to Christine who felt herself… dislocated again.
- Gloria, you behave now! Are you finished with him?
- Wanna come next? – She said smiling.
- Gloria!
- Yes, sir! I’m finished with his hands but he’s hurting, the poor thing - she said looking at her – and doesn’t let me take care of him. Have you been fighting or something? – She finally said with a concerned tone on her voice
- …
- Well, Gloria, - Kane intervened again in her rescue – if you’re finished with the visible wounds of private Tollman here, he has to go back to his training. So, hurry up.
- Yes, sir!
And he left.

Christine was puzzled.
- Why does the first sergeant call you by your first name? – She asked Gloria.
- Everybody calls me Gloria! – Answered the nurse not understanding the question. – Why are you asking?
- I just think it’s strange! Everybody calls everybody by their last names in here! But not you!
- Well, I guess it means they think I’m different! That’s good, isn’t it? – And there she was smiling and flirting again.
Christine was thinking there was no chance she wanted that role for her. They thought she was different, alright. She was a woman. But then again, her behaviour didn’t help to change that. Was her behaviour a cause or a consequence? Right then, she just wanted to get out of that play!
- What about other women in here?
- What about them?
- Is it the same with them?
She thought for a while before answering the question.
- Well… yes! Never thought about that before!
She kept thinking about it and then her voice changed a little.
- Maybe it’s because we’re women! But then… we are different! – And then she got back to her look and smile, flirting.
- I have to go back now, Gloria! – She said hurrying herself out. – Nice to meet you.

As she was getting to the training field, Kane was talking with the other sergeant and saw her.
- Tollman!
- Yes, sir! – She answered getting close to them.
- Although we all had a good time watching you two fight, and although you are both good fighters, that’s not what we do right here. And I hope it doesn’t happen again. Is that clear?
- Yes, sir!
- Good.
- So you met Gloria, huh? – The other sergeant couldn’t help interrupt and ask it.
- Yes, sir!
- Was she nice to you? – He asked keeping himself from laughing.
She understood what he meant but didn’t play along.
- …She seems to be a nice girl, sir!
- Good. Now get back to work! – He said.
- Wait, Tollman! Go back but no more rope climbing for today!
- Yes, sir!

At the end of the day, back at dorm, Thorn seemed like a wounded animal, with a wounded pride and few words to share. The guys could be mean, saying he was beaten by a girl but they could also be companions, telling him what a great fighter he was – well, that they both were.

Although doing one or another exercise in her room, Christine didn’t go to her nightly workouts for a couple of days, since she was still hurt inside. Kane felt her absence outside and by day, he kept his eye on her.

The following days were all very quiet for her, without Thorn nagging her but soon she couldn’t help to notice that first sergeant Kane was picking on her again. She could have guessed, it was all too soft. At least they stopped imposing limits to her training! Concerning the first sergeant, well she kind of liked that attention from him. Maybe he really had her under his wing. She wouldn’t mind that, she thought. She smiled thinking about it while at formation. He was 3 men away when he saw her smile and got back to her, stepping in slowly.

- What is so funny, soldier? – He got her by surprise and she startled. - Something I was saying?
- No, sir!
- So what?
- Nothing, sir! – But she couldn’t stop feeling amused for her mental pictures and didn’t feel the least disturbed by that.
- Let’s see if you keep smiling. 60! On the floor!
- Yes, sir! – And so she did.

domingo, 10 de fevereiro de 2008

In the Army III

The army officers responsible for that unit decided to keep the incident inside walls since they were under the eyes of an internal special unit that was investigating some incidents from the past. Those incidents were not directly connected to them but they were on the way or, let’s just say, the highway. It all had to be clean and crystal clear at the time being. It was the worst time to have an inside scandal right then. So they decided to open a space for that recruit for a few more months until the oath.

First sergeant Kane had his orders and got back to the dorm.
They all formed as soon as he got in.

-Well, privates… it is in the best interest of this unit that we keep this incident inside our walls and do our best to keep the word from spreading out! We will have to make some arrangements and go on with this… charade until the end of the recruit for several reasons that are not important for you to know right now.

She couldn’t believe what she had just heard and had almost drawn a smile. Kane saw it in her eyes.

- Are you smiling, private?
- No, sir!
- But you were about to, weren’t you?
- ...No, sir.
- Do you think you should be smiling?
- Probably not, sir.
- You can bet your ass you shouldn’t! First of all because you will have to work your butt off! More than ever! You got that?!
- Yes, sir!
- Now, all of you will continue to deal with Tollman as if he…she was a man. In what concerns me… he is! Is this clear?
- Yes, sir! – They all replied.
- It’s of the utmost importance that no one else knows what’s going on here; no one besides the ones that already know. And I want respect in here! Tollman, you’ll have a private room and shower. But that’s all the advantages you’ll get!

She wasn’t there for the advantages so she was much pleased with that development. As soon as she had the opportunity, she asked permission to see the first sergeant in his office.
- At ease, soldier!
- I just wanted to tell you, sir, that I’m grateful to be here! Thank you very much, sir!
- You don’t have to thank me but to your God for the situation we are in right now.
- Well, sir… for that too but the army could have just decided to make me… terminally ill or something, just to keep me out!
- Do you think so?
- …Thank you, sir! May I go now, sir?
- Before you go, may we know which your first name is?
- …Christine, sir!
- Go back to the good work, soldier! – He said while signalling the door.

She smiled, saluted him and left after he returned it. When the door closed he smiled and thought how she was totally right. His superiors wanted to arrange some kind of excuse for the outside so that she could leave the corporation without any suspicion. But he knew Tollman, he liked that soldier efficiency and wanted to keep “him” in the team. Not just for kind of inspiring others to do the same but also because all this situation was starting to amuse him in some way. Yes, she had deceived him. But as well as the entire company and that ought to be at least funny!

So she was enjoying her glory the next couple of days but time turned the whole experience much different. Since her superiors knew she was a girl, soon there were exceptions for her. And there is no need to say that she didn’t like that. It was just like if she was being tolerated there. She felt she had to show them that she could do it, that she was able to do it! That was a known feeling. Sometimes she felt like coming back to zero.

In one way or another, they started using some other measures for her assumed female limitations. In other words, it was expected less from her. There were different heights to jump at, and different lengths to run than the boys. She was always pushing those limits to the same values as men but that was really nagging her. So she decided to talk with her first sergeant about it.

In his office…
- As you were, soldier.
- May I speak freely, sir?
- Go ahead!
- Thank you, sir. With all due respect, sir, I wanted to talk to you about these different rules that are applied for me.
- Different rules?
- Haven’t you said, sir, that there would be no advantages for me in here?
- Yes, I did.
- But that’s not what’s happening, sir!
- Why’s that?
- Why don’t I have the same times to run as the others, for instance?
- Oh, that.
- And why do I get told that I don’t need to finish the tasks if I’m not feeling up to it?... Sir?!
- As a woman… you have different capabilities, right?
- That never got me from getting the same places as them before, sir! I entered here as a man and I’m supposed to be a man, right? Well I’m sorry sir but this way other people may start feeling suspicious. Don’t you think so?

He looked at her very seriously, just listening and it was hard to even guess what he was thinking about. He was showing the perfect non-revealing poker face, she thought.

- Sir, I don’t want to seem disrespectful or annoying but I have worked my butt off to get where I stand right now; I have better times than most of the guys here and now I’m being pushed back! Please sir, take those limits off! I know I can do it, sir! The hell, you know I can do it! – She said getting impatient but since she didn’t want to step over the line, she decided to draw back and wait for an answer from him.

He got up from his chair and slowly walked around the desk looking at her with his hands in is pockets. Then he slowly sat on the desk right next to her. There was silence. She somehow got disturbed by his close presence. For two seconds, confusion and a certain dizziness got hold of her thoughts.
- Are you finished… soldier? – He replied in a very relaxed way.
- Yes, sir. – Suddenly she felt some disappointment.
- Your complaint has been registered. You’re dismissed.
- But sir…!?
- You’re dismissed, soldier.
- …Yes, sir. – She finally answered and now she was very disappointed.

She left and he simply kept looking at the door. He just knew she was right.

The same day, she was in her nightly workout and he was walking by when he saw her. He stopped and just watched her for a while. One could see that she was mad at something, frustrated maybe. And he just knew why. Then she saw him and saluted him. He returned it and walked away. She thought his behaviour was strange that day. He thought that was a hell of a woman.

Next day, there was some major training where they had to run, crawl, jump walls, climb ropes and everything else.

They just started crawling under barbed wire and Thorn was right in front of her when he saw a little glass jar right by his side and decided to break it thinking of her. The others called him the dirty tricks’ guy just because things like that. She wasn’t expecting it and cut the palms of her hands but kept on going for her goals. It only got really uncomfortable, even painful, when she had to climb the rope.

Near a wall they had to climb, Thorn made her fall with a foot in front of her. She fell, rolled over, took a long look at him and stood up. He was kind of smiling and raising his head. The look in her eyes was just like fire and she kept looking at him while slowly stepping close to him. First sergeant Kane was near and guessing what was about to come. He first thought he would better get closer but then decided to let them fight and see if they would solve their differences once and for all.

They were both eager for it. As some others were getting closer to keep them apart, Kane signalled for them not to. And so it started.

Both of them seemed really good fighters, he thought. But there was also something wrong with her hands and Thorn seemed to be using this vulnerability. She managed very well with her feet though. In one way or another, they were all commenting on how good it was the fight and they seemed to be surprised with her flexibility and strength. Even Kane was making some cautious comments about it.

- She’s clever! – He said. – He’s bigger than her; she never stays close for too long.
- If he takes a hold on her, she doesn’t stand a chance. She’s gotta know that! – McCoy replied.

They fought, until they got into a point that Thorn fell with a nice kick and she got over the situation. With an elbow on his throat, using all her strength, and controlling him on the floor using her legs to do it, she was mad at him but trying to be reasonable:
- Where do you wanna get with this? Do you want me to let you win so that everybody knows you’re stronger and better than me? Is that what you want? This is so f** useless!
- I am better than you! – He said turning the situation around, punching her. – And you talk too much!

She tried to get far from him, something she got after a while, although always having to defend herself from his strikes. Then she grabbed the rope close to her for support and kicked him hard with both feet, one right after the other. He fell and didn’t move for a while. She fell on her knees, tired, took a quick look at her hands and then looked up seeing everybody looking at her, some seeing if he was ok…

- Ok, guys! The show is over, for good I hope! Everybody back to trainings! – Kane said.

He got close to her while she was standing up, preparing herself to go on also.
- Where do you think you’re going, soldier? Show me your hands.
- They’re fine, sir!
- Let me see those hands!
She showed her hands, full of cuts and still bleeding.

- You are going to the first aid station first.
- I can go on, sir. I’m fine!
- Don’t push it, Tollman. These are the same rules for everybody! Now go!
- Yes, sir. – And she went.
- Corporal, take Thorn to the first aid station too. Not this one though! Take him to the other one.
- I’m fine, sir. – He said a little bit drowsy.
- You’re going. That’s final!
And there they went.

sábado, 9 de fevereiro de 2008

In the Army II

The following days, she was more careful in her nocturnal workouts since she didn’t want to get into her first sergeant again. For two or three nights she even kept her trainings in the showers.

And she was getting better! She scored high running, fighting and shooting! First sergeant Kane never said a word about her late workouts, even seeing her once in a while. He sure was liking the results. He would like every one of them to have those kinds of goals and settings. So he liked this guy and what he somehow represented. But since he could show no favouritisms, he picked a lot more on ‘him’. Always pushing ‘him’, nagging, and yelling at ‘him’.

On the other hand, there was private Thorn, a big man who thought this fresh little guy could endanger his placement in the platoon. He was also a new soldier but he was big, strong, and also used to workout. He should be the best, or so he thought. And there was something he didn’t like about Tollman; he just couldn’t put his finger on it. So he was also always picking on ‘him’, provoking, always ready for a fight. This animosity started to be notorious, even to their superiors, who were always trying to direct those energies to workouts and other kind of “punishments”. But no results were shown. They never got into a real fight because there was always someone to depart them. Maybe they could even settle things up between them if they could do it.

Months were passing and she continued on with her scheme as a man, as a dedicated soldier, and student in the art of combat. She was there for six months already and no one had shown suspicion of any kind. Of course she also liked that, it meant another accomplishment for her. Sometimes she thought it could be dangerous to like so much of being deceiving all those guys. It could get addictive and after the army she may have to find other ways to deceive men! She couldn’t help laughing every time she thought about it.

There was a purpose in that and it had nothing to do with them but with her instead. Well… it maybe just a little! Since she was a little girl, she had to show she could do the same as their brothers if she wanted ride along. She was a girl and much younger than them but her effort in that amused them and so everybody entered the game in those days.

When thinking about it, she tried to figure out what was she doing in there, what was she really trying to prove. But the answer was always the same: she really liked that! Why wouldn’t she do it just because she was a girl? She learned that it was no barrier. The only barriers right there were somehow bureaucratic! So there she was, dressed as a man. So what?! It was fun! And she would go along until one of the parts didn’t want to continue the game. As far as what concerned her, she was just fine that way! 

The only thing that sucked was Thorn’ attitude! The first sergeant always picking on her was even amusing sometimes. Although he could exaggerate it, she thought it helped her in some ways. But Thorn…! He could be such a pain in the ass! Nothing to learn from there.

One day, they really got into a fight in the dorm and Thorn, who was a dirty fighter, reached for Tollman bowls to get to ‘him’ but couldn’t find any. He didn’t say a word but was thinking about what it meant; she was worried and had a compromised look on her face. There were some companions grabbing them and it took some moments before any kind of reaction by his side.
- You’re just a girl! – He finally said.

Of course nobody understood what it really meant; they thought Thorn was just calling Tollman a pussy. Both of them stopped reacting and so they set them loose. It only took two seconds for Thorn to get near her, wipe out her shirt and see those pieces of cloth tightly wrapped on her chest. He could see some evidence of breasts in there and was shocked. Not that much because there was a woman inside but because it was a woman that was scoring higher than him!

Not everybody around saw or understood what was happening because she quickly covered it up and because they had been anticipating a confrontation between them and were trying to get them apart. They were both strong!

- You are a woman! You’re a nasty little bitch! – He said.
Then it all started again. A big confusion was installed. She was furious because it was happening all wrong.

Some sergeants that were near got in with all the fuss and first sergeant Kane got closer to them, of course, yelling.
- I hope you have a good reason for this, soldiers! What is going on here?
- Nothing, sir! – Thorn replies.
- Nothing?
- No, sir!
- Do you think I’m stupid, recruit?
- Sir no, sir!
- What happened? – He asked Tollman.
- Just a fight, sir. – She answered.
- That I can see, soldier! What caused it?
- …
- Are you deaf?
- No, sir!
- What caused it?
- Different opinions, sir!
- I’m loosing my patience here!! What happened, Thorn?

She was death worried he would tip her off.
Thorn looked at her.
- Nothing much, sir!
But it was growing inside him. He just didn’t like her.
- I won’t ask again, insubordinates! I don’t want to know if you think it’s important for me to know it or not! I’m sure it isn’t! But I want to know what is happening here!! - He sure was mad.

Thorn finally let it out.
- Just found out he’s a woman, sir!
- What?!
- He’s a woman, sir!
He was pissed off! He wasn’t catching the dimension of that sentence but he looked
at her and she looked back at him.
- Where are you looking at?
- Nowhere, sir! – She said, looking again into the empty.
- Don’t you look at me, private!!
- No, sir!

He saw Tollman’s shirt was teared off, got near her and said while pulling it apart:
- And what is this? – Well, he was talking about the ripped off shirt but soon understood there was more than that to be asking about. She didn’t answer.

As he saw the cloth underneath the shirt he understood what Thorn really meant by that. The anger grew inside him and he slowly stepped towards her, getting much closer, with a raving look in his eyes.
- … Cover yourself up! – He finally said to her, almost biting his tongue not to explode right there.

Now he was really mad, just like a locked up bull, breathing heavily. He looked around thinking what to do. How could this happen? How could it be under his nose for so long? That couldn’t be good for him nor the corporation. What could he do to cover it up?
- Both of you, in my office, now!
- Yes, sir! – They both replied.
- Tollman, get yourself a shirt first!
- Yes, sir!

The rest of the guys were also shocked and wondering how could they haven’t got a clue about it.
- The rest of you… not a word about this!
- Yes, sir!
- I’m really pissed off and I really mean it! Do you understand me? Not a word!
- Yes, sir!!
- … Good!

And he left, mad and having a hard time getting to think about solutions for the explosive situation on his hands.

Thorn and Kris were waiting in first sergeant’s office for a while, in silence, with a corporal with them. Once in a while, Thorn was showing a kind of a smile in the corner of his mouth and Kris was just worried because all of her work was going down the drain.
Then Kane finally got in. He walked around them.

- Now, can someone tell me what the hell is going on?!
First, there was silence.
- Sir, we were discussing something … - Thorn started to say.
- Silence!! I don’t wanna know what you were doing! I don’t even know why the hell I’m talking with you, right now! I’ll deal with you later, private! Until then, not a word about it! Do you understand me?!
- Yes, sir!!
- You’re dismissed, now leave!
- Yes, sir!

And he left. He also sent the corporal out and was alone with her. There was silence! She was even worried she could be doing too much noise breathing. Sergeant Kane was silent for a while and just kept walking back and forward near her. She wouldn’t dare saying a word before him and was thinking this couldn’t be good. Then he walked to his desk and sat down in front of her, looking a bit calmer. He took a deep breath and said:
- Well… I’m all ears!
- Sir?!
- As you were, soldier! …Go on… Tell me the story that got you into this place. Humour me!

She got into a less formal position and looked him briefly in the eyes.
- I have a brother named Christopher and he’s not very found of the military experience, sir, but I am! He didn’t want to come but I wanted to! So I did, using his… identity!
- And why the hell did you do that for?!
- May I speak freely, sir?
He extended his arm telling her to go for it.
- I wanted to join the army, sir. But not to nurse, cook or clean for the men here. Those are important roles but I could have that anywhere. I wanted everything else, sir!

She continued, as he was waiting to listen for more:
- I wanted the physical preparation, the trainings and workouts, the discipline, the honour, the oath and everything it stands for!
He was starting to lighten up.
- Well, it’s the first time I ear someone saying he likes the discipline here! – He even giggled. – Usually they say we’re unnecessary tough and cruel! Don’t you think so?
- I take what suits me and ignore the rest. And when I have a problem with something, I do something about it, sir.
She had a point in there, he thought.

- Do you have an idea of the trouble your little joke can cause us? Me?
- I’m sorry for that, sir! But it’s not a joke! Not even close! I wanted what this corporation stands for, sir! I still do!
- What were you trying to prove by impersonating a man to get here?
- It was the only way to get where I wanted, sir! I know it wasn’t a straight one but I know I can do the same as men, reach the same goals and I’ve succeeded in that!
- So, you’re a satisfied woman now!
- No, sir.
- Why not? You just said it, you succeeded!
- But now I won’t be able to go on, sir! If I have permission to say it, I didn’t just want to get to this place, sir!

That amused him.
- So how far do you wanna go?
- As far as I can get, sir!
- And where would that be?
- That’s up to you, sir!

For a moment or two he was mad at her response. Then the anger seemed to leave.
- What do you mean, it’s up to me? Do you think I approve what you did?
- Probably not, sir!
- Do you think I even want you here?!
- Probably not, sir!
- I must admit you have guts! And you have lots of potential, too! I would like one third of my men to be like you… BUT - and that’s a big but! – you are not a man! And you’re right; I don’t approve what you did… especially not in my platoon and under my nose. Got that?!
- Yes, sir!
- And what do you think it will happen right now?
- I don’t know, sir, but… with all due respect, I haven’t caused any trouble up to now, I have done all that was expected from me, sir, and what wrong may happen just because I have a different sex?
- That’s exactly the point, soldier! A woman in the middle of all these men! The army is not prepared for that, neither are the men that it’s made of!
- With all due respect, sir, are you prepared for that?
- What’s your point, soldier?!
- Are you prepared for that, sir?

He felt a mix of fury, curiosity and somehow a sort of amusement with her impetuous energy.
- For a woman like you in here? Yes, I am prepared for that!
- You’re part of the machine, sir. If you’re ready, why wouldn’t they be?
- Everyone is different, soldier. You should know that. And it’s a big machine, as you called it.
- I’m used to a house full of men, sir, and I know how to handle them.
- It may be true but what would you say to my superiors?
- Exactly the same, sir!
- Well, but that is your job, not mine, isn’t it? And what would I do?
- I don’t know, sir!
- Of course you don’t!... All I know is that this will be a scandal outside!
She kept silent.

The he kind of giggled with some thought.
- What if other women start doing the same?!
- Maybe then the “army” decides to start a real unit for women!
- Dream on, woman!… And what does it say about us, our keenness, our acuity?
- …Maybe it’s better not to be known, sir! – She hesitated.

He looked straight into her eyes and said:
- It sure would have been better not to have happened at all!… Well, I have to take this issue up to the Lieutenant.

Then he called for the corporal waiting outside.
- Take Tollman to the dorm. See if all of them stay inside walls while I take care of this matter. Oh and McCoy, make sure Thorn and this one stay out of trouble, will you?
- Yes, sir!