2237-05-30 - Unqualified

While Isolde waits her turn to call home with news on the Qualifiers, she is haunted by memories of failure.

Date: 2237-05-30

Location: Shipyards over Scorpia

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 561

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It is late over Scorpia, but that means nothing when it comes to squeezing in time to make a call home. The queue to the secured communication rooms is long, feet shuffling along the bare grate floors as each person moves closer and closer to being able to say hello to friends and loved ones elsewhere in the Colonies.

In that line is Isolde Ko Asa, and she is perhaps the least excited of those lined up to step into one of the rooms and ask to be connected to the Asa residence on Tauron. Her shoulders are slumped, eyes downcast. Each step seems to drag her forward.

She can already hear her father's words echoing in her head. After all, she had heard them before...

"We are just disappointed. We're not mad at you, Dea."

"The hell we're not," Masturo Asa snapped on the heels of his wife's attempts to shelter his daughter's feelings. He paced like an angry wildcat, threatening to wear marks into the brand new rug, freshly delivered from Leonis. "Don't soften this, Orianne. It teaches her nothing."

An angry young Isolde sat in one of the family chairs, fists in her lap and eyes resolutely at the floor. Her father's harsh words caused her wet, glaring eyes to look up, and she snapped back with the same intensity as the Master Sergeant, "I'm sitting right here, you know. You don't have to talk like I'm not even here."

Orianne Asa -- so unlike her husband and children with a fiery cap of red hair, but still the obvious source of Isolde's fine jaw and square chin -- sighed softly. "Isolde, we are know you are here. Please, if we could just remain focused on the event that has us upset, and realize that we are still quite fond of each other." It was meant to be delivered with much needed calmness, but there was a warning edge to her words that caused Isolde to cross her arms in a huff and Masturo to cease his frustrated pacing.

It took Masturo several long moments of jaw-flexing before he looked seriously at Isolde. "All you needed to do was put in the time and the effort, and we would not be sitting in your principal's office, discussing what needs to be done to see you graduate on time." Masturo's basso rumbled like deep thunder, and all it did was set Isolde's jaw tighter. "I've seen two children through that school successfully, but you, Isolde Ko, always have to break the mold, don't you?"

Isolde offered up no reply, but glared in response at her father. She knew he hated the look, as it was the heart of defiance before a man who was not so easily defied.

Orianne, sensing another break of the levies, stepped up to her daughter to place a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Summer school, and you will have to write a letter of apology to Mr. Spenda for trying to download the answers to the final." She paused, frowning. "He thought it was a very clever use of the library interface, but would still like to see you actually prepare and take the assessment on postmodernity. He says you have outclassed all your peers, but you are very lazy."

Masturo snorted something under his breath at his wife's gentle parenting. A man raised on the streets of Hypatia and saved only by enlisting in the Corps, he never could see the benefit of gentle guidance over adequate punishment.

"You should thank your mother," the Master Sergeant rumbled. "She interceded where I would have not. You failed, you should endure the consequences. There is plenty of work on Tauron that does not require you to finish your schooling. I would see you removed from school and placed somewh -- "

"Turo." Orianne's voice sharpened, and it was enough to cause Masturo to retreat a step. Calm and fair as Orianne often was, he knew it was always being in the eye of a storm just waiting to pass over. He grimaced, nodded, and turned to leave, muttering a final threat under his breath despite its complete lack of weight.

Isolde had never seen her mother get angry, but in that moment, she thought she could almost see the glimmer of tightly restrained emotion. It surprised her enough for her own anger to loosen its hold. Not until her father closed his study door did the young Asa girl look up at her mother, expression a mix of emotion -- anger and self-centered disappointment barely overshadowing the deeper sadness beneath.

Orianne gently kneeled down to look up into the wet face of her young daughter -- fourteen and struggling to flourish. But that had always been her daughter: a seed that could not bloom where it was planted.

"Dea," Orianne murmured softly, and that was enough to make her daughter's barriers break. Tears started to roll heavily down Isolde's plump cheek, gathering in heavy drops at her chin. "Oh, Dea..." Orianne collected a tear, brushing it aside with her finger. "He did not mean it."

But to Isolde, it never mattered what Masturo meant. It only mattered what he said.

Isolde waits for the video call to connect, once more listening with apprehension to the soft chimes. She swivels back and forth in the chair, staring at her hands. She looks small in that chair, slumped down too far and shoulders hunched.

When the call dings, signaling its connection, she straightens up a hair and looks up into the aged faces of her mother and father. Orianne is smiling hopefully, while Masturo looks a bit apprehensive. Within seconds, though, both expressions change.

"I didn't qualify," Isolde quickly puts in, foregoing hellos and pleasantries. She is staring at her hands, but hears the hard grunt from her father.

"Turo," Orianne implores, but there is nothing said until the heavy door slams shut. The Tauran woman sighs heavily, looking at her crestfallen daughter. She can already see the course of tears staining Isolde's cheeks. "Oh, Dea... don't worry. He's not mad at you. He's just disappointed..."


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