The short red-head briskly walked down the pathway between two large green bushes that were covered in what she could only assume were poisonous red berries. It was usually a given that if it grew on a bush, and was red, it was poisonous. The birds didn’t seem to have a problem with them, though. Usagi always found that fascinating. Something that could kill an advanced biological creature like a human was perfectly harmless and apparently downright tasty to a bird.
The young girl smiled as a couple of birds flew in and picked a couple of the berries off the bush. Usagi paused and watched them for a moment before stepping towards them. The birds, not wanting to hedge their bets on Usagi’s intentions, flew off, leaving her slightly disappointed. It didn’t matter though. She could understand how they felt. She was beginning to feel the same way about certain people; regardless of their intentions, just their presence made her want to fly far, far away.
“Soon,” she commented to herself as she resumed her walk towards her family’s house. Graduation from high school was only five months away. Sure, she was going to end up stuck at the State War Academy for six years, but at the same time it would be away from this house – and him.
Usagi continued to bounce around, hopping over gates and fences, out running various animals as she cut through peoples yards in her attempt to knock as much time off her commute as possible. The weekend was here and she wanted to spend as much of it as she could watching the holoreels from the Quafe Idol contests that took place over the last week.
She would happily admit that Gallente pop stars was one of her vices, but she’d often jokingly justify it by saying ‘if I better understand them, I can do a better job getting back Caldari Prime when I am leader of the CEP!’.
It amused her friends, few others.
Usagi slid in through the back door and began to remove her shoes while taking a seat on the staircase that both led upwards towards the main floor’s kitchen and downwards towards the basement. “Mom, I’m home.”
The removal of her left shoe was quick, the removal of her right shoe went slower as she heard her mother reply and footsteps approach. Two sets; mom’s and another’s. Her brother was home, but he was nearly ten years younger than her. No, these were an adult’s footsteps.
Usagi sighed deeply in frustration. ‘He’s supposed to be deployed,’ she complained to herself.
“So,” the booming voice called from the top of the stairs, “you failed your history exam?”
Usagi didn’t turn towards him, deciding to instead focus on finishing the removal of her shoe. “I didn’t fail it,” she countered. “…And seriously, you came rushing back here for this?”
“Usagi…” Her mother tried to warn her, but there wasn’t any time. Usagi’s father, Norri, narrowed his gaze at her, took two steps down towards her and backhanded her. Usagi, not paying attention, was caught completely off guard, allowing her to lose her balance which in the end caused her to tumble down the remaining steps into the carpeted basement.
She quickly got up, and began to check herself for bleeding as Norri walked down towards her. Usagi’s mother, Miharu, quickly ran up behind him.
“You got a 65,” Norri growled.
“59 and below is failing,” Usagi scowled back, backing away from Norri. “Yes, I did poorly, but I passed it.”
Norri began to move forward again causing Usagi to slam herself backwards into a wall. Miharu, grabbed Norri’s shoulder, which halted his advance on his daughter. He pointed back towards the staircase authoritatively. Usagi sighed as she rubbed the back of her head.
“Your poor performance is a black mark on not just you,” Norri began. “Why can’t you get that through your head, Kaede?”
Usagi moved past him, scowling. Norri had apparently learned that some of her friends had begun calling her by her middle name, as a sign of playfulness perhaps; who knows what goes on in the minds of Caldari high school girls. Regardless, Norri was using it as a psychological warfare tactic, and it was proven effective.
“You know my name,” Usagi hissed.
“Of course I do, Kaede,” Norri nodded as he began to follow Usagi up the stairs. “After all, I named you.”
Usagi began to move on to the second set of stairs until her forward momentum came to a stop by Norri grabbing the back of her school uniform jacket. He pulled her off the stair and pushed her towards the door, his free arm pointing towards the back yard.
“Oh geez, really?” Usagi complained.
“Norri,” Miharu started, however a quick glance from him ended any defense Usagi might have expected from her.
Norri led Usagi out towards an open area. He slowly unbuttoned his Caldari Navy jacket and set it down on a table, the medals attached to it, making a slight noise that seemed to endlessly echo through Usagi’s head – a reminder of what Norri both expected and demanded out of her. Usagi also removed her school jacket, revealing a tank to underneath. Norri shook his head, disgustingly.
“You even dress like a whore.”
Usagi just looked at him in confusion for a moment before tying back her hair into a ponytail. “I don’t remove that jacket all day. Who cares what I wear underneath?” She threw her arms up in frustration. “If I can’t fuck up enough, you just make something up?”
Norri walked over to a storage shed, unlocked it, then returned with what appeared to be two long swords. They were very similar to your standard katana, but the blades were black; yet still shone when the light hit them. The emblem of the Caldari Navy could be seen etched into the blade, just before the hilt, if one held it the right way.
A worrisome look crossed Usagi’s face as Norri returned with the swords. Miharu again spoke up as the fourth member of the Tsukino family, Nari, came down to see what was going on.
“Norri, what are you doing?” Miharu asked, moving towards her husband.
Norri smirked as he tossed one of the swords to the ground in front of Usagi. Her instinctive reaction was of course to jump as far away from the inbound projectile as possible, but once it landed, she moved towards it to inspect it.
“She may be an intellectual failure, but she’s good at combat,” he acknowledge. “I think we’ve moved beyond shinai.”
Usagi picked up the sword. The damn thing was half the height of her. She looked to Norri who quickly turned to her. The man, about 195cm, dwarfed the still growing little girl who at this point was hovering around 157cm. The pair looked at each other for a moment before Norri grinned. Usagi quickly brought herself into a defensive stance, but realize simply getting the hell out-of-the-way was the better option as Norri charged at her swinging directly at her head.
“WHAT THE FUCK, DAD?” Usagi screamed.
“You will refer to me as ‘Father’ or lacking that ‘Captain Tsukino.’” Norri order, turning around and taking another swipe at Usagi.
“Norri…” Miharu started. Nari watched on with concern, his eyes more on his older sister as the battle forced her to move around the yard, ducking and dodging the swings from Norri’s sword.
“Why do I constantly have to come back here to deal with you, Kaede?” Norri asked, again mocking Usagi by using her middle name. “Failing history? How can you do that when your mother and I have done so much to teach you about the State’s past all the way back to the Raata Empire?”
Usagi barely dodged another swipe that did end up making her hair about two cm shorter in the back. She finally managed to make a swing at Norri, but it was easily blocked. Usagi, unlike Norri apparently, was not actually trying to land any of her blows.
“Is it because you spend so much time watching and listening to the crap the filters over from our enemies?” Norri asked.
“What?” Usagi asked.
“I know what you watch,” he explained. “I know your obsession with the Gallente. It sickens me that you would have such a lust for people who occupy our home.”
Usagi shook her head, “My home is here.”
“OUR HOME!” Norri screamed, swinging again at Usagi. Usagi barely dodged him again; she dropped her sword as she rolled out-of-the-way of what seemed more like an anger fueled death-blow than it did any kind of training strike. Usagi looked up to now find herself weaponless, against a tree; Norri closing in on her.
“If the State ever falls, it will be because of people like you,” Norri growled. “People like you dishonor the sacrifices of people like me and people like your mother, and they end up killing people like your brother through their lust for personal satisfaction over the greater good of State.”
Usagi looked to both Miharu and Nari before looking back to Norri. “You haven’t even given me the opportunity to try and be someone yet. What gives you the right to judge my worth to the State?”
Norri laughed. “You’re my daughter. You’re my property. THAT is what gives me the right.” He starts to turn away, still laughing a bit. “Besides, I don’t need to actually go fly a ship to tell if it’s defective if it comes out of the shipyard with no engines.”
Usagi snarled. “You don’t know me, Norri.”
Norri stopped laughing, turned and swiped the sword at Usagi. Usagi’s blood-curdling scream could likely be heard for a kilometer. “YOU WILL ADDRESS ME WITH THE RESPECT I DESERVE,” he yelled.
Usagi had both hands on her face, just below her right eye. Blood rolled down her cheek, across her mouth and dripped both onto the ground and onto her tank-top. She looked up at Norri defiantly as tears began to join the blood flowing across her face.
“I will address you with the respect you earn.”
She knew it was a mistake, she didn’t care. He was either about to kill her, or beat her into unconsciousness. Again. Either way, when it was done, he would be gone for a while. Bones would heal, the cut would heal, everything would heal.
Against his wife’s objections, Norri did grab Usagi by the neck and ranted a bit about respect. Usagi couldn’t hear a word of it. She was growing a little weak as she was losing a decent amount of blood from the sword cut on her face. She did take the time as she was pinned up against the tree, with Norri’s large palm smashed against her trachea, to wonder if things were different in the Federation. If she was a Gallente girl, being beaten by her Gallente father, would the neighbors care? Usagi’s neighbors might not all agree with the way Norri ‘disciplined’ Usagi, but it was a moot point. Norri was a well-respected figurehead within the Caldari Navy and his family lineage is very well-respected back before the Navy bought their contract from Ishukone.
Quite frankly, short of an act of treason, Norri Tsukino was pretty much untouchable.
So even if the neighbors did call the police, what would they do? More than likely, Usagi figured, they’d probably arrest her for screaming so loudly when she was cut with the sword. It’s a quiet neighborhood. Such disturbances are frowned upon.
Miharu finally managed to pry Norri off of Usagi. Norri acknowledged that actually killing her would probably cause more problems than it would solve at this point, so he placed both the swords back into the storage shed and moved to pick up his jacket. Once he put it on, he walked over to where Usagi was lying and squatted next to her. Nari, who was holding Usagi’s hand as Miharu attempted to clean her wound, moved slightly, placing himself in between Norri and his sister.
Norri smiled at this and patted Nari on the head. “Now here is a good Caldari who believes in sacrifice over self,” he grinned, turning to Usagi. “You realize if you quit failing, I can quit disciplining you.”
Usagi slowly sat up. She looked at Norri for a couple of seconds before pushing Miharu away, standing and walking into the house. She stormed up to her room, pulled off the bloody and sweaty tank top and threw it on the floor before falling onto her bed.
She rolled over, her eyes opened slowly, the misty blue looking into another set of blue that was obviously awakened by either thrashing or mumbling or some other kind of involuntary action that happened while she was trapped in REM sleep, forced to relive one of the worst days of her life.
“Logan,” she whispered, “…I failed at being a Caldari.” Usagi pulled herself closer to him, and turned away facing towards the window. She pulled his arm over her, pulling him as tight to her as she possibly could. “I failed, but I just don’t care,” she continued, “…because I keep thinking of the benchmark of being a good Caldari is… him…”
Logan gives a slow, deliberate blink, clearing his head as he does, opening his eyes to look back down at her, sliding his head over the back of her’s, lining his mouth up with her ear. He takes another second to choose the right words to say, not really wanting the conversation to start with, ‘why would you want to be a good Caldari girl?’
“Is who?” Logan leans back a bit, sliding his free arm under his head, supporting it, rolling to his side more, his other hand, taken by Usagi, pulling her body into him, trying to ignore her nakedness next to his. Usagi purred contentedly at the warmth of his body coming into contact with her own. Yet she continued to look out into space as light from the sun of the TXW solar system started bounce off the moon below and pushed through the heavily tinted window. She moved herself around a bit allowing her to make herself more comfortable on Logan arm, as well to fit into the natural curvatures of his body better.
“It doesn’t matter,” she quietly replied, regretting to herself bringing the issue up. “He forgot the words he constantly tried to beat into me anyway and killed himself thinking of only himself and his own ego,” Usagi whispered, rolling back around, towards Logan.
“A good Caldari doesn’t think of themselves first,” she continued. “But I do – well… did.” Logan opened his mouth as if to reply, but it was quickly filled with Usagi’s tongue. She stopped suddenly, however and looked at him, the now brighter, blueish light beginning to silhouette her now mostly exposed body. “You don’t have a problem with imperfection, do you?”
Logan kept his eyes on hers, using his other hand to trace suggestively down her body. “Not a lot of imperfection from where I’m laying,” he pointed out. Usagi looked down at her body as Logan continued to talk. “You’d make a poor podder for Rote if all you did was think of the State. An even worse lover. A case I know I’d object to!” Logan smiled infectiously, twisting his body around hers, placing her half under his body, his hand sliding over her stomach, slowly lower. Usagi allowed Logan to do with her what he wished, for he had validated what she had felt.
Even if she wasn’t a good ‘Caldari’, she was fine at whatever it was she was.
Usagi silently agreed to herself, as Logan climbed on top of her, that it was a perfectly acceptable compromise.
For Logan’s part, he made a silent mental note to bring this all up later, as there was obviously something going on in that complex hive that is Usagi’s brain, but that would have to wait till when there weren’t other… more pressing things to take care of. He looked down at Usagi whose hands were already ‘encouraging’ Logan to get on with things. Logan smiled as his lips met her neck and moved up.
“Discipline me.” Usagi whispered. Logan stopped kissing for a moment and looked at her, his eyes opened slightly wide.
“Ow!” Usagi moaned/groaned/exclaimed at some of the movements of Logan’s hands. He narrowed his gaze at her.