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Those who had supported me found themselves receiving praise by the end of the time there. I received an award and with that recognition, I knew that I had made the right choice. This world was where I belonged. I would thrive here, I felt it in my bones and there was a strange satisfaction that came from that awareness. I was home.

Feeling a sense of belonging was so rare for me because I had always felt like I was wearing a mask or putting on a show but here, in this training command I was accepted for who I was and what I brought to the table. 

"Cathy, you are awesome," one person said.

"Cathy, you are so brave. I am so glad I got to know you," another person replied.

This feeling was so freeing and empowering. I was able to use my skill set to drive results. As a member of the color guard and the physical fitness coordinator, I felt like I was living the dream life. I had even been encouraged to go back to college where I began taking courses to earn my associates degree. 

"You should go back to school Cathy," the Command Master Chief told me.

"I don't know Chief. I didn't do so well the first time around," I said with hesitation.

"How about this? If you sign up I will sign up and we can go back together?" He looked me square in the eye.

"You would go back to school?" I asked him unsure if I heard him correctly.

"If that meant you had an opportunity to better yourself. Sure, why not! I could use the challenge," he said smiling. 

Amazing. I had dropped out of college the first time. After my grandmother had passed and I left the church walking through the halls of that community college no longer felt right to me. It no longer felt like a safe space. I would be haunted by memories in that place and so, like the passing of the guard I had finished off the year and walked away.

"I don't know if I can do it," I said simply. 

"I know you can, do you believe me?" 

I did. I did believe him. "Yes,"

"OK, register and let me know what classes you take and we can go from there."

I was renewed. 

Here, people gravitated to me and I quickly found my clique. I had found my home. 

In this new group, we didn't have a hierarchy. That was odd to me. How was I to know who the Alpha was? How was I to know who called the shots? What truly amazed me was the fact that each of us as leaders both in our pre-service life and here. 

We had naturally gravitated towards one another. Like animals seeking out their own kind. We had secretly sensed each other's power and influence. Joining them was easy and with no one in charge, we ran amuck but enjoyed every minute of our crazy adventures. 

It was freeing to be part of a group that rose above the others so naturally that it didn't seem like a responsibility or obligation. It simply was a part of who we were and what we represented. We were studying different languages, warriors in our own place. Leaders amongst our own groups but peers in this inner circle. 

We didn't consider ourselves mean girls even though we didn't let just anyone join our group. We didn't think we were cruel even though we toyed with boys and reminded girls that they had no place amongst us. Our reputation grew and we had become known as "The Clique". They wanted to be us. Could you blame them? Not really. If you think about it, really think about it, you would have wanted to be us too.  

We were the embodiment of everything you valued. We were beautiful, we were smart, we had men eating out of the palm of our hands and we were viciously cunning. Leaders of our own design recognized by leaders at the command and rewarded with privileges that matched our status. It would be hard to deny the power we possessed and the way in which we wielded that power. 

Results oriented, some of our group tutored those who were struggling, others provided physical training sessions to help some of their classmates perform better on their fitness exams. I lead a team that was responsible for maintaining the grounds. It was the team no one wanted to be on because the work was demeaning. When I took over, they met me with reservation and disdain. They assumed that because I was a part of The Clique that I would be cruel and treat them poorly.

"Oh great," the tall lanky fellow said under his breath. 

"What's your name, sailor?" I asked.

"Miguel," he said flatly.

"Nice to meet you, Miguel, I'm Cathy," I said smiling.

"I know who you are, you are one of The Clique. Now, I'm going to get stuck doing demeaning shit so you can feel good about yourself," his tone was harsh and for a moment I was taken aback. Quickly recovering I smiled.

"Miguel, looks can be deceiving. Yes, it is a fact that you will work hard but I promise you that when we are done here you will be happy you were a part of this team."

He wasn't convinced. That's OK

"You will have a voice here, that I can promise you. We will do great things together," I said looking at Miguel and scanning over the rest of the group. "We will succeed together, all that I ask is that you are open and honest and that you put in the work,"

They didn't believe me at first but what they had not anticipated was that the Commanding Officer would pay us a visit and thank them each personally for their service. They quickly discovered that if they performed as I asked and remained loyal to me that I would take care of them. 

Soon, the most demeaning work had become the most coveted. If they worked on our shift they knew that the leadership noticed. Leadership started getting requests to be placed on this duty. It blew my mind that they would willingly perform this menial labor simply to gain recognition. 

That's the thing though, that is the magic, give someone a purpose and they will follow you wherever you tell them. 

That was the truth that I had learned over the years. 

That is why people converted to the cult and left their family and friends behind. That's why teenage boys would give up on the possibility of having sex to join a church that expressly forbade it. That's why girls who once stood at the top would stand to the side to let me rise above them. I offered them something they couldn't get for themselves. I offered them acknowledgment, recognition, validation, and purpose. 

The Clique held similar values and they supported their followers fiercely. No one that was one of them would have to be afraid of anything. It was an unspoken understanding. We lead in our own groups but together we were equals. 

Here we could be true to who we were with no consequence. Here, we could dance and fuck and laugh without worrying about being judged. No one would judge us in this circle. Outside we stood as pillars, shining examples of what good sailors should be. Role models of our own design. Respected amongst the leaders and admired amongst the followers.

Together, we were girls, free to be girls, free to sing karaoke, drink till we were shitfaced and know that no one would let us be taken advantage of. We would go home together unless course we wanted to get our pussy pounded. 

The rule we set in place to protect ourselves was that we wouldn't leave alone with any stranger. If we wanted to fuck, someone would come with them to make sure that our choice was our own and was not the result of a roofie or some other shit. 

At first, that idea freaked me out. I didn't want to watch anyone fuck...but then there was Sally. 

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Author's Note: This next chapter will have some vivid sex scenes. I'll post it in the next chapter as well. Thank you for reading. If you liked this chapter please vote it up. 

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