Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

It was always slightly embarrassing for me to watch Jarima try to pick up a guy.

She had a bodybuilder’s physique. She had a wide rubbery mouth and a strong jaw. She had bright red hair kept short. A little spray of freckles danced across the bridge of her wide nose.

She laughed like a horse and chewed with her mouth open.

She was an orphan and had learned to fight from an early age. She protected her little brother and her little sister in the orphanage until they were taken away and adopted by separate families. She never saw them again and since she was older, no one adopted her. She told me once that they didn’t actually tell her that they were in an orphanage until they had been there for two weeks. She laughed when she told me that story.

She made it to being a teenager through several rapes and numerous beatings.

She made it through being a teenager by killing boys who tried to rape and beat her.

During battle, she was as good as most of us and better than some.

We picked her up outside the courthouse. She’d gotten off in three previous murder trials with a self-defense clause but it was clear that the next time she was on trial for murder, she’d go down. It was only a matter of time in her neighbourhood before some thick-headed boy would think she was an easy target, ignore the rumours, and try to get it on.

We gave her the pitch. Money, interstellar travel and violence. She leapt at the chance.

We’re a company of private mercenaries. We look for a certain type of person in police records and give them the chance to make money with us. Lots of violence. Some months are better than others.

So now we were on leave in a backwater bar in Southern New Nelson.

She never went as far as to wear a dress but she was wearing some badly applied makeup. Coupled with how much courage she’d had to drink, she made a messy picture. She asked me to wish her luck before she sauntered away from me after a deep breath.

I’ve seen Jarima stare down warlords until they break and spill their secrets. I’ve seen this woman kill with her bare hands. I’ve seen her take bullets and hardly wince until the mission was completed. I’ve seen her lose friends and keep going without looking back.

I covered my eyes with my hands as she walked up to the guy at the end of the bar.

I was waiting for his polite rebuke followed by her angry response. I was waiting for his insolent reply and then the sound of his arm breaking and perhaps some shattering glass before going in as backup and peacekeeper.

It was always slightly embarrassing for me to watch Jarima try to pick up a guy.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows