A young woman in combat gear forced her way through the last few trees blocking her destination.
She stumbled up the steps to the door of the cabin, but before she could knock — someone opened it.
Isabelle, expecting to find one of the nearby villagers trespassing on her land again — lowered her gun when she saw the woman.
She was short and skinny, caked in dirt and snow, curly black hair hanging like a spiderweb in front of a sun-scorched face, and bleeding from gunshot wounds. The woman was doubled-over, gripping her side — likely trying to fend off the worst of the bleeding from the wound there.
Isabelle opened her mouth to speak, but —
“Didn’t know where else to go…”
— the woman collapsed before she could even figure out what to say.
The woman woke up lying on a couch in the most pristine cabin she’d ever seen. Her wounds were treated and bandaged, and she could smell… something cooking. Even in her hunger, whatever-it-was still managed to avoid triggering her appetite.
… Probably not a good sign.
Turning her head slightly, she noticed that the woman with the gun — ‘The owner of the cabin?’ — was stirring something on the stovetop on the other side of the large, sparse room.
There were a few (hideous neon-green) rugs warming the hardwood floor, and some lifting weights were near the back of the cabin next to a couple of doors; her removed weapons rested on a side-table behind her head; the front door was beyond her feet, the shotgun leaning on the wall beside it, and… that was it.
‘Not even a fireplace…? Or some pictures on the walls?’
A voice, rough with the effect of too many cigarettes, asked, “How’d you find this place?”
The owner(?) had turned away from her cooking. She was quite a large woman: over six feet tall and entirely muscle, with a rather unflattering, bleach blonde mohawk, and wearing a loose, flower-print shirt.
The injured woman responded humorously, “As if I could forget that flag.”
Isabelle’s eyes widened in surprise — then a look of understanding. “Oooh…! You’ve fought my group before, haven’t you?!”
The injured woman’s face turned grave at the memory. “Thankfully, our employers called a truce –”
“Oh yeah!” she broke out in a large smile, “A damn shame. I always hate unfinished battles!”
“… ” The injured woman stared at her; not quite glaring, but clearly troubled. “Your name was… ‘Brigham.’ Wasn’t it.”
Isabelle grinned. “Wow. I’m kinda flattered you remember my name.”
“Don’t know why. Just stuck in there for some reason.”
Then she smirked, resting her head back on the armrest and closing her eyes. “Probably because of that stupid flag of your’s, ‘Oinky.’”
“Gh-!” Isabelle’s grin fell. “And might I ask your name?”
“Alright, ‘Twig.’ Why’d you come here?” Isabelle turned back to the stovetop.
“Is that supposed to be an insult on how skinny I am?”
Isabelle didn’t respond.
So Trishna explained: As part of a group of private military contractors, she had signed up to protect what was described as a “new settlement in undeveloped lands.” She didn’t realize the truth until they arrived, and her teammates turned on her when she tried to leave. The villagers also, understandably, attacked her as she was escaping.
“So when I saw your goofy flag –”
Isabelle spun around. “Will you stop calling it that?!”
“What? It is,” Trishna goaded, opening her eyes to look at her.
Isabelle looked ready for a fight. “The Boar is a strong, terrifying animal! It’s a symbol of courage and ferocity!”
“That flag has a cartoon pig on it, Oinky.”
“IT’S A BOAR!”
Trishna smirked, “And the background is neon green because…?”
Isabelle spun back toward the pot before Trishna could see her blush. “Green is my favorite color. Do I need a better reason, ya damn twig?!”
Trishna shrugged as best she could, “I guess not. Anyway, I saw your flag above the trees and figured I had a better chance of survival with an enemy mercenary than an angry mob.”
There was silence for a moment, then, “If it was me, I’d have slaughtered them.”
It wasn’t said judgmentally. Nor without feeling — but with pure relish.
Trishna stared at her back. “… You make me sick.”
She realized why she’d remembered this woman now. Back when their groups fought each other, “Brigham” had to be forced to stand down by her teammates. Even after the truce had been announced — she’d kept firing. Eventually they’d managed to stop her.
But it was like she hadn’t even heard the order…
… because she was enjoying herself too much.
Trishna was snapped out of her memories by a bowl being placed in front of her.
Isabelle helped her up to lean against the armrest. “Eat up, Twig.”
In the bowl, Trishna could recognize some type of fish, broccoli, and mushrooms — among several things she couldn’t recognize — that seemed to have been made into some kind of stew.
“… I’m not eating this-”
“-Then I guess you’re not eating.”
“… ” Reluctantly, she picked up the spoon. It didn’t taste as bad as she thought it would.
“Why help me?”
Isabelle sat down on the fluffiest of the (hideous neon-green) rugs, one of the smaller weights in hand. “Easy. I’m not on a job, so you’re not my enemy.”
One woman would take a bite, the other lift her weight.
“Why are you all the way out here, anyway?” Bite, chew.
“I’m allowed to take vacation, aren’t I?” Lower, lift, lower.
“You don’t have family to spend it with?” Bite, chew.
“Sure I do.” Lift, lower. “I spent the holidays with them.” Lift, lower. “I wanted some time to myself.” Lift, lower.
Lift, lower, lift– pause.
Trishna stopped eating as well.
She thought she heard a metallic sound coming from outside.
“Speaking of which…” Isabelle set down her weight, stood with a grunt — and picked up the shotgun next to the door.
Struggling to raise herself further off the couch, Trishna called, “Don’t kill the- !”
Brigham slammed the door behind her.
With her wounds, the best Trishna could reasonably do was grab her handgun from behind her — and listen carefully to the sounds from outside.
Gunshots, some yelling and screaming… All faint and coming from the same direction.
They eventually stopped, and Isabelle returned — far too happy for having just killed so many people.
“Can’t stay here anymore.” She discarded the shotgun and walked straight toward Trishna, lifting her up bridal-style.
“Sorry. Didn’t want to move you until you were a bit better healed — but we can’t wait now. I’m taking you to the city.” Isabelle used her foot to pull the door fully open again. “You’re on your own from there.”
Grimacing, her vision darkening, Trishna bit out, “Don’t wanna — owe you. But — … thanks, Oinky.”
“Don’t CALL me–!” When Isabelle looked down, Trishna had already passed out.
“… Stupid Twig.”