A young girl, of about twelve, strolled aimlessly and happily through the market square. Her basket was full of items for dinner and she was peeking at the other stalls curiously. Taking a moment, she glanced up at the sky and, realizing that it was getting late, turned abruptly away from a stall full of tantalizing sweets. Slowly, she made her way back through the crowd, on her way home.
Just as she passed by a dark alley, she heard a strange cry. It sounded like the whimper of a dog or a cat. The girl stopped to listen, and upon hearing it again, put down her basket to help the poor animal in trouble. To her surprise, she found a bunch of big boys beating one that was about her age! Two were holding the smaller boy by the arms while another, their leader, punched and kicked him.
“What are you doing?” The girl cried in shock.
The leader turned with a sneer. “Beat it girlie!” He ordered and raised his hand to slap the cuffed boy, who closed his eyes and flinched.
The girl grabbed the older boy’s wrist, preventing the blow. “Stop it!”
“Let go!” The leader yelped, surprised at the little girl’s firm grip.
“Not till you leave him alone,” She begged.
The leader shook her off and took a menacing step towards her. She took a step back, then another, till she was against the wall. Yet, the girl did not look frightened and the two of them stood – nose to nose.
“You don’t want to mess with me, girlie,” The bully snarled.
“Leave the boy alone,” The girl replied, gritting her teeth.
“You already have one scar,” He said, brushing a finger over her cheek, “No one would notice another.”
“Go ahead,” She challenged.
The bully dropped his hand and turned away. But at the last second, changed his mind and swerved back with his hand flying through the air to strike across the girl’s face. But the blow never landed.
In one fluid motion, the boy’s hand had been blocked, his gut punched and his feet tripped. He fell to the ground gasping and clutching his stomach.
The girl turned to the other two boys, her fists still clenched.
“Let him go,” She demanded.
They hesitated. Then grinned as their leader secretly grabbed the girl’s braid and pulled so hard that her head lurched back. But the boys’ pleasure quickly turned to horror at they watched the young maid reach backward, lock their leader’s arm and break it. As the bully screamed out in agony, his fellows dropped the boy and darted past in fear, leaving him to writhe in pain alone.
The girl approached the hurt boy and knelt beside him. Pulling out a handkerchief, she held it out to him. “Are you alright?” She asked softly.
Sniffing, the boy took the white tissue and blew his nose.
“What’s your name?” The girl prodded.
“Boja,” He replied gruffly.
“Can I feel your bones?” The girl asked and began to reach for his arms.
Boja pulled back anxiously, his eyes narrowed. “My what?” He asked.
“Your bones,” The girl explained, “I need to make sure that they aren’t broken. Otherwise you won’t be able to get home safely.”
“Why do you care?” The boy pouted, “And I don’t need some strange damsel to come rescue me. I can take care of myself … always have.”
The girl sighed, then sat down comfortably and pulled out a small bun from her pocket. Breaking it in half, she held out the other to the boy. He hesitated, then slowly took it from her fingers.
“Thanks,” He muttered before tearing the bread to pieces with his teeth. “Where did you learn to fight like that?”
“My Grandpa,” The girl replied proudly, “He was an Imperial Guard.”
“Do you think,” Boja swallowed the remaining crust, “That your grandfather could teach me?”
“I could teach you.”
“Nah,” Boja shook his head with a grimace, “I’d rather have a real teacher. No offence but I don’t fancy being taught by a girl.”
“Well it’s either me or none at all,” The girl replied, her hands on her hips, “My grandfather can’t teach anybody else because Grandma won’t allow it.”
“He doesn’t run a school?”
The girl shook her head.
Boja sighed. “Fine … teach me.”
The girl stroked her chin. “I’m not sure you’re right material.”
“Material for what?”
“For my gang.”
“You have a gang?” Boja raised his brows sceptically.
“I’m starting one,” The girl clarified, “But you’ve already proven that having you as a member would be a problem.
“I’ll be the General of course. And you said you can’t take orders from a girl.”
“I never said that,” Boja protested, “When did I say that.”
“Just now, when you refused to have me as your teacher.”
“Fine – what kind of a gang?”
“A special one where we protect others,” The girl’s eyes brightened, “You know, where we find bad guys and beat them up. That sort of thing.”
“Like you just did?” Boja looked over at the bully still huddled in the corner.
“Alright, I will accept orders from you as my General and teacher,” Boja said, somewhat reluctantly.
“Great! Now hold out your arms for me.”
He put out his arms obediently, and the girl ran her fingers expertly up and down, checking for broken bones.
“Are you a nurse or something?” He asked as she began to check his head for any fractures.
“No,” She replied, “But my Grandma is an herbalist and she is teaching me.”
“All clear,” The girl stood up, satisfied. “You can go home now.”
Boja stood up shakily and then looked her over.
“Am I your first member?” He asked.
“My first patient?”
“No, of the gang.” He stopped. “Am I your first patient?”
She nodded quickly. “Yes – to both. You’re my first patient and my first member.” She cocked her head. “Which makes you my second-in-command really.”
Pleased, Boja stood tall. “When did you come up the idea of starting a gang?”
The girl smiled. “Just now.”
The boy shook his head with a grin. “When shall be our first mission, captain.”
“General,” She corrected, “We begin with a session of training tomorrow. We meet here.”
Picking up the fallen basket, the girl started to mark on home.
“Hey,” Boja called after her, “What’s your name?”
The girl turned back. “Kkachi.”