The bar was dark, and muggy, and loud, but the stools were clean and the alcohol was cheap and mostly drinkable, so Hannah didn’t complain when, the evening after she graduated from Boot Camp, some of the women dragged her with them for a celebratory drink.
"So, what you unit are you all going to?" Hannah asked.
They seemed surprised – she hadn’t spoken a word to anybody throughout the course of the ten weeks, and they had possibly assumed she was mute. “I’m going to Infantry,” one woman said, a muscular brunette with intelligent green eyes.
“Artillery,” said a smaller woman with a lithe swimmer’s body.
“Military police. What about you – Solomon, is it?”
“Rangers,” she answered.
The group froze.
“You’re kidding,” the first said, frowning. “You? Solomon, you’re tiny! What are you, five-three and a hundred pounds? They’ll eat you alive!”
“I’m stronger than I look,” she said nonchalantly.
"Really, because right now you look like you couldn't take a hit."
“Eh, don’t be so sure,” said another, the one who wanted to join the Military police, “You keep quiet, Solomon, but I saw you. You weren’t real tired, were you? Was Boot a bit too easy for you?”
Hannah shrugged. “Hard, but not impossible. It could have been worse.”
"Yeah, we could have been volunteered for Delta Force. I would have gone AWOL. I’m not that crazy," one said.
Hannah’s head snapped to her so fast it looked like she’d unhinged it. “AWOL is a very, very bad idea,” she said.
"Well, it’s better than going through Delta training."
Hannah shrugged. “If you like that sort of thing,” she answered. “Who’s up for drinks? I’m thirsty.”
The group trooped in, making a beeline for the bar and ordering beers, save for Hannah, who ordered a double Vodka.
“Slow down, Solomon, we’ve got all night!” chided the Artillery woman, sticking out a hand. “What’s your name, anyway? Solomon’s not working for me.”
Hannah shook the woman’s hand with one hand and drank her vodka with the other, smacking her lips as the heat burned her stomach. “None of your damn business,” she said with a grin. “It’s just Solomon. Hate my name.”
The woman grinned. “I’m Catherine,” she said.
"I'm Kate," The military police woman said.
"Cara," the paratrooper said.
Hannah nodded, finishing off her Vodka. “Any of you play pool?” she asked.
The evening went by fast, and Hannah enjoyed herself, much to her surprise. It was only later that, when Catherine had gone to the bar to retrieve their drinks, Hannah noticed her trying to discreetly move away from a tall, muscular man in a Navy uniform, who was bearing down on her with a suggestive smirk. Hannah excused herself and made her way towards them, placing herself between the two.
“Hey, she’s not interested,” she said smoothly. “Why don’t you back off?”
The man was not impressed. “What, she your girlfriend or something? Relax, I’ll give her back.”
Hannah snorted. “Sorry, sweetheart, don’t swing that way. But I do know how to tell when someone’s too polite to tell a jerk to back off. So why don’t you turn around and find someone else to hit on, before I break that pretty face of yours?”
He leered down at her, smirking. She realized dimly that his height and hers offered him a perfect view of her cleavage. “Looks like pretty girl’s trying to play tough,” he sneered.
“Keep talking and you’ll see just how tough,” she warned.
“Look, I don’t hit women,” he answered, “But if you try-” that was all he got out before Hannah lunged at him, grabbing him by the shirt collar and bringing him down to smash her knee against his nose. There was a sickening crunch as it shattered, and Hannah proceeded to lay him out flat in under seven seconds. That done, she grabbed him by the ear and dragged him off the floor so that he faced Catherine.
“You will apologize for your rudeness and for your unwanted advances,” she said calmly, with all the air of somebody commenting on the weather. “If you fail to convince me of your sincerity-” suddenly, she had a needle-sharp knife in her hand, placed against his lower abdomen, “I will start removing appendages. Do we understand each other?”
The man apologized profusely and fled, tripping over himself in an attempt to leave faster.
Hannah approached Catherine quietly. “You okay?” she asked seriously.
“Is that a knife?” Catherine asked. “You brought a knife to a bar?”
“That’s not important,” Hannah said. “Are you okay?”
“I’ll decide what’s important!” she ordered. “What, do you just take a knife with you everywhere?”
“Yeah,” she answered. “What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is that you just threatened to kill a guy!”
“Castration isn’t deadly unless you do it wrong,” Hannah said with a roll of her eyes.
Catherine slouched in defeat. “Just put the knife away, okay?” she asked, heading back towards the pool table. “Jesus, I take it back, thank God you’re going to Rangers, I don’t think we’d be able to handle you.”
They rejoined their group, and Cara smacked Hannah on the back as she arrived. “Saw your skinny white self kick that guy’s ass,” she said with a grin.
“Told you,” she answered with a smirk. “I’m stronger than I look.”
It wasn’t questioned.