Marina had been trained by the best martial artists in the planet and she had been practicing other techniques to make her moves even more fluent than ever. She had always been interested in sports and being fit, especially since in high school she had always been such a chubby little girl. Many of her classmates would make fun of her because of that. She would cry and tell her dad or her mom but by the end of her school years, she didn’t care anymore. She would answer with silence.
When in college, she decided to become more active and enrolled in karate classes and then she went to a special school were she could learn how to handle a vast assortment of guns. Of course, she would only learn how to use the least complex ones because of her status as a civilian, but that was enough to make adrenaline pump all over her body. When she pushed her body to the limit, whether it was on the shooting range or in the gym, she felt liberated, someone else even.
It was a surprise to her when, two years into her studies, she was approached in the campus by a man in a black raincoat. It happened at night, which wasn’t the best setting for a woman in campus. Marina had noticed the man walking behind her for a while and when he was closer, she used her elbow to strike his nose and then her fist to punch him hard in the stomach. She started running away from him but she was stopped when he caught up with her, pulling Marina from her sweater’s hoodie.
She felt to the ground but didn’t loose any time: she used a very powerful kick in the shins to topple the man down and she was about to pull out her pepper spray when the man showed her his CIA badge. She pulled back just in time, watching as his nose bled profusely. She was confused and thought trouble was just a small word for what could happen to her. She feared that she had probably punched some undercover guy in the face. But why was he chasing after her?
The man asked for help to get up and she did held her arm forward to pull him up. The man tried to clean his coat, covered in dirt and dead leaves, without taking a long look at what was happening in his face. He was still bleeding a lot. He only pulled out a handkerchief from one of his pockets kind of wiped some of the dried up blood off his face, not that it helped much. Marina stood there, afraid to run away but also to stay by the man. She grabbed her backpack, which she had removed when she landed on the campus’ floor. Everything was fine inside it.
The man finally started talking. He said he worked with the CIA and that he frequently probed the grounds looking for new recruits. He had been interested in Marina for a long time and had decided to talk to her that night. He admitted to the idea being a little bit stupid, with everything that happened to young women in that context, but he was also glad she had responded in such a manner when he came after her. It really showed that what they were looking in her was definitely there.
Before Marina could ask any more questions, he gave her his card, with a few droplets of blood. He told Marina to arrive to that address the next day at five o’clock in the afternoon. He would be there to talk to her about the possibilities she could have with the agency and about her past, present and future in college. Before she could even say a word, the man turned around and walked away rather fast. Maybe he was afraid of getting hit again or he had realized how serious the nose thing was.
Marina arrived at her dorm in minutes but she couldn’t sleep at all after what had happened that night. She was already beneath a lot of pressure from college, with all the work she had to do. She also had her training and her gym schedule. She was even considering helping in a fundraiser which was about helping young woman in campus but everyday seemed to disappear after that man had told her she could have “possibilities” with him and the agency he represented.
She arrived right on time the next day. There, she met the man again, who had apparently been at the doctor’s because his nose had been properly taken care of. The bandages made him look a little bit different than the night before, or maybe it was the lighting. The point was that he was not alone. A woman, around his age, sat on the desk when Marina came in. None of them smiled or did anything to greet Marina in their space. They just went right to the questions and they did have a lot of those.
After a long sessions, maybe two hours, of questions about her childhood, upbringing, education and interests, the woman asked her coworker to tell her again about what had happened the night before. Marina was a bit ashamed to hear about it, especially when she wasn’t asked herself about it, so she remained in silence, nodding when the woman seemed to need confirmation of what the man said. The story was short, so she didn’t have to endure that awkward moment for too long. The woman then asked Marina to meet them again the next day, in a new address, inscribed in another card.
The next day, Marina entered her gym very late at night. The moment she had seen the address on the card, she had realized she knew the place by heart. Her trainer was there and she was glad to have a familiar face there. But he seemed very concerned and could only give her a nod when she entered the place. The woman and the man from the CIA were there and also two other men, closer to her age or at least so it seemed. They were dressed in gym clothes and looked at her as angry bulls.
They all walked towards a corner of the space, one covered in mats. The woman from the CIA told Marina that she needed to see for herself that what her partner said that she was able to do was actually true. It was the only time the woman asked Marina if she wanted to go through with it all. Marina thought about how weird the whole thing was, how strange it was to be in one of her favorite places in the world but feeling as uncomfortable as she had never really felt.
She had arrived in gym attire, so the first match began right away. One of the big guys she saw at the entrance was her first match. She guessed the second one was going to be against the other one, if she survived. The man behave more like a bull than like a man but she was able to counter every single one of her blows, no matter if they were kicks or punches, with relative ease. He was close many times, but Marina had trained hard in order to be not only effective but also incredibly fast.
When she finally did her gut punch move, the other guy entered the fray and toppled her to the ground, making her feel like she had lost every bit of air that was inside her body. She tried to stand up but the second brawler kicked her hard on one side and the other was preparing to ram her again. What she did next was something based more on her instincts than on her actual skills. She jumped on top of the biggest guy, sat on his shoulders and tried to asphyxiate him with her thighs.
Then, after a few seconds, she jumped down, taking advantage of the movement to kick the other guy straight in the face. He fell down like a deck of cards. The remaining guy was about to punch her when the woman yelled: “Stop!” And he did.
Her trainer and the CIA guy were looking at her with eyes wide open. But the woman was actually smiling, something that didn’t really fit her appearance. She then walked closer and grabbed Marina by the hands “I have work for you”, she said, without dropping the creepy smile from her face.