Damn, I love the sound of breaking glass.
Something about that tinkly smashing noise makes all the stresses of the fade away like nothing else. I mean, who doesn't love a bit of mindless destruction every now and then? Except maybe Man Hands; she'd probably tell me the glass had feelings or something.
I swing my fist again, driving my knuckles into the remainder of the glass pane, and feel the thin barrier crumple around the punch, shards of glittering debris flying out towards my face and torso. One particularly nasty missile heads straight for my face, and I smile with grim satisfaction as I feel a slight prickling sensation in my skull, before it stops a millimetre away from my left cheek, and plummets to the ground. I feel the other pieces hit my barrier almost at the same time, and the prickling intensifies, each separate collision like a mental itch I can't quite scratch. As the final pieces skitter across the concrete floor, I step away from what's left of the toughened glass pane, and meet the eyes of the test supervisor, Dr. Grey. He raises his eyebrows, before scribbling something down in his notes, and remarking tonelessly, 'Good. Not even a flinch this time. You may leave, Miss Lopez.'
As I turn and march towards the door, the glass crunches under my combat boots, and my heart sinks. The third test this month, and I still didn't get in? I scuff the soles of my shoes even further against the fragments, trying to get as much satisfaction out of the sound as my disappointment would allow. Maybe they were just messing with me. Maybe I didn't stand a chance at all.
His parting words take me by suprise, but they stop me dead.
'It seems like you do have the ability for Squadron A after all. Congratulations.'
Despite the emotionless delievery of the statement, a smile breaks out all over my face. They let me in? They let me in! I almost run back in and hug him, but then I remember I don't do physical contact. 'Sides, I'd probably break his ribs by accident. Instead, I wipe the smile off of my face, and let my own poker face slide on instead, turning round to reply.
'Thanks you, sir.' The reply has a slight lilt of surprise but nothing else. That's it, Lopez. Keep playing it cool, and you'll be squadron leader in five years. Dr. Grey nods, as if confirming something to himself, before adding, 'A meetings commence at 0700 hours. Your uniform is in your dormitory. I look forward to monitoring your performance.' His tone suggested otherwise.
'Yes, sir.' I don't say thank you again. Instead, barely managing concealing my excitement, I walk quickly from the room, success still sinking in.
Watch out Squadron A-it's time to get some Lima Heights in this joint!
FIVE YEARS LATER
'Squadron A Leader! Requesting your presence on the lookout post!'
'Fuck off.' Okay, maybe that was not the best response to the situation at hand. But it's fucking five a.m. And so help me God, Santana Lopez is not a morning person.
'Squad A Leader! This is urgent!'
The word urgent gets me awake. From the moment I kicked and clawed my way to the top, I made it clear that under no circumstances was I to be woken up before nine o'clock, unless the circumstances in question were possibly dire. For the leader of Squadron C to risk the Lima Heights treatment, things must be pretty serious. I grab the comms unit stationed by my bed with one hand, and drowsily mutter into it, 'Whass'a matter?'
'We have a break in, ma-am.'
At the word break-in, I'm out of bed, and already half in combat gear. With one leg in my pants, I hop across the room, calling over my shoulder, 'What kind of break-in? How many?'
'As far as we can tell, one.'
'Wait, hold up! You're kidding me, right?' This had to be some sort of joke. Fucking Puckerman, he was getting cleaning duty for this. 'No way one person got past the compound perimeter.'
'That seems to be the case, ma'am. We have apprehended the woman in question, and-'
'Very fucking funny. You know what? Tell Puck from me that-'
'Ma'am, I assure you this is not a joke. We need you to come down and assist in the interrogation process immediately.'
'Fine.' I grumble. 'But if this is one of Puck's stupid jokes, he is so demoted, his ass will be in Squadron Z by the time I'm done with him.'
Well, hell. Guess this isn't one of Puck's stupid jokes.
I stand at the entry to the detainment chamber, Squad C Leader Hudson shuffling his feet nervously behind him as I peer through the small barred airhole in the door and into the dingy interior beyond. There really did seem to be a girl in there, or as far as I could see. The shadowy figure slumped in the corner certainly wasn't one of my team on some stupid prank-even in the dark, I knew their silhouettes off by heart. And no way were any of the lesser squadrons gonna mess with me. Without taking my eyes off the prisoner, I ask casually, 'How did she get in?'
'We're not entirely sure. The alarms went off at around 0450 hours, and we found her wandering around a little later. No trace of her on the security cams, and there were no si-'
'You're not sure?' I whip around, and fix the sucker behind me with my best Heights Adj. stare. 'Remind me what your job is, Squad Leader Hudson?'
'Um, to oversee surveillance and perimeter guarding op-'
'Then find out.' And with that, I punch the security code into the door, slamming it shut in SL Hudson's face, before flicking on a dingy ceiling light. Stuttering dimly, it finally steadies, and bathes the scene in a wan yellow glow.
And I am faced with the most beautiful girl I have ever met.