“We can’t pay you,” she said, and she stepped protectively in front of her son. Marika just nodded. She pulled up her dust mask and goggles, checked her sword and gun, and walked down the road. Minutes later, she stepped out of lee of the soy farm’s windbreak, a line of tired evergreens, and sandy wind hit her like a wave. She leaned into it and walked on, leaving the dust-yellow farm behind.
Marika didn’t look back. If she looked back, she’d want to go back, ask them to let her stay, to earn her place working in the fields. It never went well. Farm work didn’t suit her. The same thing, day after day after day, and always feeling exhausted, on her last legs from the endless toil in the fields. She never stayed more than a season.
Not to mention the way farmers treated her like a viper who might bite at any time, but hope that she’d be their viper if it came down to it. That’s what farmers do: promise her pay, point her at the local bandits, and hope everything works out when they can’t pay.
Maybe the next group of farmers would pay her.