Bodyguard Work

A short piece of fiction about a brief encounter on a job between an assassin and the bodyguard standing in her way. Wrote this a while ago and had a lot of fun, but it isn’t a complete piece in and of itself (it’s not really meant to be; more like an exercise with the characters) so I won’t be submitting it anywhere else. Enjoy.

Bodyguard work put Ingrid on edge.

The crowds, the cameras, the business meetings in foreign buildings where she was expected to trust the local security teams and didn’t have time for whole area sweeps, the shuttles between space stations where any number of tiny, insignificant changes to equipment would result in the most horrifically effective sabotage… Ms Novara was equally terrifying; she’d sweep past her employee into every room as though she had nothing to fear, grace the highest of towers and lowest of mines with her presence with no thoughts to the dangers. Novara seemed to consider her very presence to be her greatest weapon, and wasn’t exactly incapable of self-defence, either. After months of employment and countless close calls, Ingrid didn’t actually get a chance to prove her skills on the field until they were making their way back to the spaceport shuttle stop, after Ms Novara had publicly announced yet another corporate takeover of a planetary mining company. Ingrid noticed their car had gained follower a little bit faster than the driver did. The driver nervously increased their speed, all too aware that this stretch of road was deserted and camera-free.

She twisted her shoulder from the passenger seat and looked into the back. Novara had her bionic eye switched on and trained on her laptop as she typed rapidly, but looked up quickly as she noticed the movement. “Is there something wrong?”

“Yes. Someone’s tailing us on a bike, and they stopped being subtle once the city was out of sight. If they catch up we could be in trouble.” Ingrid took another glance out her window. “Can’t tell from this distance what they’re packing…”

“Don’t worry about it.” There was a slight click as Novara closed her laptop, before sliding it into the bag next to her. She reached under the seat and pulled out a baton and passed it to Ingrid in the front.

Ingrid stared at it for a moment, nonplussed. “You want me to take down a motorbike with this? I don’t mind primitive weapons from time to time, but I’m not sure this is the place.”

“When you jump out, I’ve got a device in the back that will send a directed EMP wave. That should pause them for a short while, and mess with any serious gear they might have. I want you to send a message to their employers, but I don’t want you to kill someone just for doing their job,” Novara stated, then winked. It was barely noticeable from her place in the shadows, with her green bionic staring unblinkingly.

Ingrid sighed, unimpressed with her boss’ idea of humour. Or problem solving. “Alright, I’ll see you at the spaceport. Are you going to wait, or am I catching the next shuttle?”

“Catch the next shuttle; I have three more meetings scheduled up at the port before we leave this system,” Novara said dismissively, pulling out her laptop again. Ingrid rolled her shoulders, gripped the baton, and signalled the driver.

They slowed just enough for Ingrid to drop out and roll to a safe landing, allowing the motorbike to get disturbingly close. A sullen whine built up from the car and was expelled in a single, loud jolt just as the car picked up speed again, and they quickly disappeared towards the horizon.

The bike was hit. Engines cut instantaneously, though the momentum carried them closer, and soon they were uselessly slowing to a stop about 15 metres from Ingrid. Neither of them moved for a moment, the silence palpable after the last echoes of the car in the distance faded away. They slammed the handles in a flash of anger, threw down the stand and dismounted to look at the engines.

“Don’t get too comfortable,” Ingrid called out, wind bristling and whipping the words from her throat. The rider’s head snapped up, and they dashed towards Ingrid with reckless vigour, causing her to step back in fear. Just before they reached her, they stopped, drawing up to their full height and tilting their head. Ingrid kept her solid, wide-legged stance, with the baton held at an angle near her knee.

“You’re cute,” came the unexpected, rough voice.

“You’re employed to kill me,” Ingrid nervously accused, gripping the baton more tightly. She was taller than her opponent, but her own wiry build wouldn’t give her any particular advantages over their stocky one. However much of their form was muscle tone or just bulk from the bike leathers, she couldn’t tell, and facing off against an impassive, gleaming helmet while silence stretched between them only grated at her nerves further.

Eventually, the rider rocked on their heels slightly and laughed. “Cute. I’m employed to kill your employer. I have an impeccably clean record where bystanders are concerned.” Their words were muffled, but Ingrid could swear there was a hint of smugness. “You’ve distracted me enough, doubt I’m going to succeed catching up before your boss catches the shuttle off-planet. Why don’t you hitch a ride back with me and join me for dinner?”

“I’m on duty,” Ingrid replied automatically, stoically refusing to let her stance fall. “And I don’t even know your name.”

Gloved hands reached up and unzipped their jacket, letting it fall open to reveal… Ohh. A fishnet singlet hung loose over a crop-top, crossing over elaborate tattoos that spiralled down towards her hips. The assassin removed her helmet with a languid stretch. Her eyes were wide and dark, surveying Ingrid playfully.

“It’s Meera.” She stepped closer. Ingrid’s eyes were locked to hers, hypnotised, and Meera’s lips pulled into a dangerous smile as she noticed. “Normally I’d say we should keep the rough play to third date, but I see you’re primed for it.”

Taking the cue, Ingrid swung the baton towards Meera’s stomach, but she deflected the blow and jabbed Ingrid’s diaphragm, winding her. Ingrid shifted one foot back and blocked a punch, grabbing Meera’s forearm and wrenching her over her foot. Meera let herself follow into the fall and rolled back up again before giving Ingrid any further advantage, then swung a leg into Ingrid’s knee, knocking her swiftly onto her back.

Stupid! Ingrid cursed herself and quickly flipped back onto her feet, but Meera only watched and laughed, as though it were a game. Ingrid took the moment to smack her hip and shoulder with the baton in quick succession. She turned her body aside to avoid a returning punch, darted forwards to hit Meera’s thigh with bruising force, then lunged at her gut. The assassin grunted and grabbed Ingrid’s wrist in a vice-like grip before she could pull back, and twisted, forcing the baton out of Ingrid’s hand and a cry of protest from her lips.

“You’re not trying very hard,” Meera sang, and kissed her palm with dizzyingly gentle grace. Ingrid froze, breathing heavily, more than she should at this stage. Meera’s eyes fluttered up to hers again. “Has it been a while? I’ll go easy on you.”

Ingrid snatched her hand back to steady herself and moved in, swinging her fist towards Meera’s shoulder, anger adding force to her movements. They traded blocks and blows again, feet dancing in-between each other in an effort to get solid grounding without leaving themselves open for another trip attack. Meera ducked and suffered for it when Ingrid elbowed her back, knocking her down. She followed it with a kick to the stomach, wincing internally when she heard Meera curse in pain.

“Go tell your employer that it’s not wise to pursue Ms Novara any longer,” Ingrid stated through gritted teeth, and began walking away.

“Don’t worry. I won’t be targeting her any more,” Meera called out, and lay on the ground, laughing breathlessly. She didn’t stop Ingrid from starting up her motorbike and driving away. With such a high-profile client, the bodyguard wouldn’t be hard to find again.

Soon, Ingrid had left the would-be assassin far behind. The adrenaline in her body didn’t start cooling down until the shuttle stop appeared on the horizon. Not for the first time, Ingrid felt apprehension about her career choices, but now it was accompanied by an odd ache, lingering weakness in her legs… or perhaps that was just the bruises.


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