L o s A n g e l e s , C a l i f o r n i a || 1 0 : 0 0 P M
V a r r i n a B r a e l y n n
She fought internally, her mind struggling to stay focused on the bars in front of her and stray thoughts weaving themselves in and out of the forefront. Outwardly however, she was a picture of composition. Though her body trembled, the tremors were so light that the shaking was nearly invisible to anyone aside from the one who sat right next to her. Her eyes fixated themselves to only what was directly in front of them though they were staring at nothing in particular. Her expression was blank, emotionless, lips completely still and not even a slight hint as to what she was thinking or feeling on the inside. The whir of the needle was the only sound she could focus on though the pain of the rapid-fire punctures was more apparent than she would have liked. The very thought of getting a tattoo would have been forbidden back when she still had her freedom, but once the warden locked her in her cell, the statuesque woman holding herself together on her stool purposely abandoned all prior teachings she was thought to be instilled with. Federal prison was no place for morality, after all.
"Goddamnit Vee, stop twitchin' and shit," a butch woman with a slightly deepened voice bellowed. The other women around snickered. The woman on the stool sighed.
"I told you I hated needles already... What did you expect me to be like?"
"I expected you to not be such a damn pussy!" The butch woman snapped. The circle of watching women snickered once more. The woman on the stool sucked her teeth.
"Whatever... I didn't even want this crap."
"You know the rules. If you're gonna be part of our crew, you gotta have a tat."
"I'm only part of your crew because I'm tired of getting my face stomped. Can't I just be an honorary member or something? I'm not even gonna be useful, I told you guys up front that I just want the protection."
"Oh, you'll be useful. Trust me, you're the only one small enough to do what needs to be done."
"That's only because this prison is full of amazonian women who are all six feet or taller. Where the hell is that even a thing? Five-six is average for females."
"Like I said, you're the only one small enough. Get used to it."
The woman on the stool pursed her lips and remained silent. In truth, she had been extremely hesitant to join up with a prison clique, but it was also true that there was little choice. The beatings had been getting worse and there was no guarantee that she wouldn't suffer permanent damage the next time she got caught at the wrong time in the wrong place. She felt powerless and weak having to beg for help, but she knew that there also opportunity amongst the general shittyness of the group itself. There was an opportunity to learn and for Varrina Braelynn, an opportunity to learn was the most dangerous kind of opportunity you could present her with.
"Annnd... Finished!" The butch woman exclaimed, quickly rising from her own stool and stepping back to admire her work. The other women closed in around Varrina's right arm and examined the freshly finished ink drawing for themselves. The image depicted a laughing skull with two open jack-knives in an "X" formation beneath it--an obvious play on the iconic skull and crossbones imagery. The butch woman handed Varrina a mirror to which the short woman frowned at her newly desecrated arm.
"Jesus... At the very least, can we drop the name? The tattoo is enough to show I'm part of this gang or whatever, right?"
The butch woman laughed. "Hell no, we ain't droppin' shit! Every one of us has a nickname. It's another part of being in our crew. Besides, yours fits so damn well. You think you can't be useful to us, but in our eyes your our little Jack-Knife."
Varrina rolled her eyes and abruptly stood from the stool. "Jack-Knife... So fucking stupid," she murmured.
"What?! Didya say somethin'??" The butch woman bellowed once more. Varrina shook her head and offered a half-smile. This was what had to be done if she hoped to survive the length of her sentence.
Her eyes opened slowly, the familiar speckled, white tile ceiling greeting her awakening. Varrina elected to lay in bed and stare upwards as the chime of her smartphone alarm went off on the adjacent nightstand. An arm lazily reached out and hammered the surface of the nightstand, looking for the smartphone in vain. Finally, it fell on the device with decent show of force and the sound disappeared. Varrina sighed heavily and pulled herself into an upright position against the headboard. "If you're gonna be staying the night, you can't be trying to break my phone when I have to leave," she said to the man laying next to her.
The man grumbled something unintelligible and Varrina cursed under breath--both because it was somehow already ten o'clock and this was not the first time her phone had been viciously attacked by this particular individual. Swinging her legs over the edge of her mattress, Varrina stood and took a brief moment to stretch before a chill caused her to fold up and hug herself. The temperature had dropped, but then again she also dressed in a t-shirt and panties. A hand ran through a forest of brown hair as the still somewhat groggy Corporal trudged towards her bathroom. "I'm gonna take a shower," she announced to the man who was still laying her bed, "be gone before I get out." The door closed and the man moved after a minute or two. He knew quite well what would happen if he even thought about staying longer.
Varrina was in and out of the bathroom in fifteen minutes. Steam wafted into the air, escaping from the bathroom as she walked out more alert and energetic than before and headed to her closet. Her uniform was already ready to go thanks to some prior preparation the day before and her hair was already tied back and pushed up into a high ponytail. In spite of her personal time activities, the old military discipline was still very much indoctrinated into the laid back woman. With a quick stop at her mirror and a pocketing of keys and phone, Varrina quickly beelined for her front door and exited her studio apartment with a rigid gait, long stride, and solid frown. She hated working in the middle of the night.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~T h e H u m p
The Hump was still as secure as ever. Being in the military meant one grew used to showing ID and adhering to security measures everywhere on a base, but The Hump was secure to the point of annoyance in Varrina's perspective. All the bio-metric scans, locks, ID cards, card keys, armed soldiers, and even more was too much for the Corporal to be able to just grow used to whenever she had to report for work. Though her visage never betrayed her inner emotions, suffice it to say Varrina always gritted her teeth just a little as she went through all the security just to even enter the building. Of course, it made perfect sense considering the RI-1 shells were more expensive than any one individual could possibly comprehend, but that didn't stop the whole procedure from seeming just a touch ridiculous.
Varrina bypassed the locker rooms as she marched her way down halls and corridors towards the Cryo Room. Truth be told, she didn't care one way or another about changing within the public facilities, but she found it easier--and a way to sneak in just a bit more sleep time--to simply change in the convenience of her own home. She swiftly moved down the longer sections of the facility, giving salutes or returning them as she passed the odd solider here and there and glanced their respective rank. It wasn't long before she finally arrived in the "coffin bay", as she and some friends called it, and found that she was probably one of the last to arrive. Even when you leave early, you're still late, fuck
, she thought as she moved a stray strand of hair behind her ear. With a nod to some of the soldiers in the bay, Varrina finally made her way over to her specific coffin and took a stance next to it, folding her arms.
Now all she had to do was wait.