Alpha Centauri Star System, Planet Chorus S-710e Therrite Mining Outpost
1300 Hours, July 21.
When you suddenly realize just how hilarious being punched feels like, you've been hit far too many times.
The fist crashed into Miranda's jaw like a sledgehammer through porcelain--spun her into the dry grass. It hurt, she knew that, but when you're a barely hundred-pound twig lying on the ground with a damn near mouthful of dirt and blood, it was surprisingly difficult to take anything too seriously.
I mean, really, how can this possibly get worse?
As she tried to rise on shaking hands, the other girl ran her down like a lioness--pressed a knee to her throat and a foot to her right elbow. An instant later, another blow tore into her skull like a freight train, again and again.
This wasn't like a drunken brawl--she'd probably be the crazed hellcat winning in that situation--and instead Miranda was more shocked that the blows didn't hurt as much as they should. The other girl had to be at least one and a half times her weight, but that was the least of her problems because she now knew what belied those voluptuous curves was pure muscle.
There was at least one advantage of being in a shit storm: it just doesn't seem that bad until you're standing at an adequate remove and are mentally on the outside looking in. Despair could turn a hulking brute into a sulking pansy, just as it could make an otherwise trapped rat believe it had a chance.
Miranda twisted left, right--threw the other girl off balance and caught the next blooded fist in a stinging open palm. Miranda then threw her to her back, quickly pinned both knees at the elbows and dug finger nails into those pretty eyelids, but the other girl didn't even cry in pain.
Who the fuck does that?
No sooner had she retaliated was Miranda lifted straight up and catapulted into the dry grass like a rag doll, oppressed into submission yet again. A pair of thumbs sank into the soft flesh of her throat just above the junction of her collar bones, sealed shut her air supply, the scream crushed into silence in her throat.
It was the stupidest thing to finally come to this point, choking on dirt and mucus, and only then realize that she wasn't just losing badly but was also dying. Miranda pried at solid steel arms fastened at her neck, tried to break free as she plunged into a spell of vertigo, drowned in panicked silence. It was increasingly getting harder to see and think.
Isn't someone supposed to help?
But the gathered crowd--like her--were momentarily too stunned to act.
A cat fight was supposed to be hot, fetish stuff both men and women secretly enjoyed, at least momentarily. A scratch here, a bit of hair pulling there and girlish screams as clothes got torn off before social rules and morality compelled the so-called upstanding citizens to break it up.
Miranda's nose gave with an ugly crunch, but the mild shock of the pain barely dragged her back into full consciousness to behold those terrible eyes once more. The other girl leaned into the choke, cocked back another fist to finish her off when--mercifully--someone lifted her from behind.
An eternity passed, but the world didn't stop spinning and Miranda still couldn't breathe. Vomit rushed out before the pathetic wheeze of her lungs finally came. She laid there like a sack of shit, felt like a sack of shit; blood and mucus ran from a broken nose as her head rolled to one side and saw the other girl being dragged away.
Miranda counted three boys--number one and two tugging at either arm with number three at her waist, and only then did the other girl make the furious battle cry.
Damn. Some people just have it all.
The other girl dragged the boy at her right arm forward--spun him over that shapely hip--and number one was flat on his back in a dust cloud with the wind knocked out of him.
She turned--the other boy wheeling uselessly at her waist--and caught the collar of number two on her left arm, wrenched him close. A foot hooked behind his calves, a violent shove and she knocked him off balance into a brutal take down.
How can anyone so pretty...be so fucking strong?
Number three at her waist lifted her off his friend while she kicked and screamed, and the instant her feet touched the ground she instantly turned on him.
He pushed her back, but she pushed at a better angle; his shoes dragged through the dirt with zero traction until he brought her crashing sideways, then number one and two were up and it took all three to finally subdue her.
The boy that was at her waist--the one she so easily overpowered--tried to calm her down. "Kael," he pleaded, asked her to trust him that the fight was over and none of this was worth it, and only then did she finally calm down.
Once they let her go, Kael got up and approached Miranda, then quietly picked up her sunglasses nearby. She said nothing as she put them on, but those dark red eyes caught Miranda again--eyes that said you're nothing, and you have no one. Next time you fuck with me, I'll kill you.
Then, Kael walked away. The crowd surrounded her and tried to make sense of how it all got so out of hand, but she ignored them.
Seriously? Are you fucking serious? Miranda broke into a loud, pained laugh between the hacking coughs, then a handful finally realized she still existed.
Miranda once promised herself to never admit the once who hurt the most were those who ignored. You see, no one really wants to be friends with the school delinquent, so the day you leave to train for mandatory military service to the colony was as good a fresh start as anyone got on this backwater mining planet.
An Arab boy trotted to a stop by Miranda and reached in his duffel bag for a spare turban to staunch the blood leaking from her nose. "There, just hold it like that," he said as he helped her up. The white cloth soaked red in seconds.
Another spell of vertigo hit; Miranda had to shut her eyes and slap the ground for support. A moment later, a dull roar echoed off the distant hills, and when she opened her eyes a black dot appeared on the horizon.
"The drop ship will have a first aid kit," he said as he caught her arm. "Just hang on. I've got you."
He didn't bother to introduce himself, so neither did Miranda. Pity, she noticed he'd be quite handsome if it weren't for that photocopied, sympathetic smile he wore while his mind was clearly and obviously elsewhere. It was the same kind of strained smile teachers, campus police and neighbors gave to her as she passed.
Just go, Miranda thought behind a broken smile. Before the slut stops giving blow jobs.
The least Miranda could do was label her that, because no one ever really punishes the talented pretty girls, but deep down Miranda knew it was all her damn fault for starting shit she couldn't finish. Then again, how the hell was she supposed to know the other girl was certifiably insane?
The black dot flew in from the fiery sunset, then grew to the familiar profile of a Raven drop ship: four stubby wings attached to each corner of a boxy hull. The transport settled in a billowing dust cloud just as the loading ramp swung open.
So maybe she lost the fight, but what did that matter? She had a tenet, this girl: you win some, you lose some, so why tiptoe through life only to safely arrive at death? Soon she'd be half way across the world with a fresh start.