Just reposting my Tanith short story that I entered in that competition last year. I've been getting my Skulduggery on today!
Tanith Low hit the tiled roof, hard. It was disappointing. She had always thought of herself as a graceful figure, and why shouldn't she? She wasn't some Disney Princess: she wasn't a mermaid, so she didn't swim the best; she wasn't the chick from Sleeping Beauty, so she wasn't the heaviest sleeper, but she had her elegance. She definitely identified with them, being a princess herself, but then again...
"That was breaktaking, dearest," a nearby voice swooned. "I think I'm falling in love with you all over again!"
Tanith sloshed to her feet against the cold rain. "Not bloody likely." she winked. "You never stopped."
Harvey Draskin dropped from the chimney with a splash. Unlike most, Tanith was tolerant of him: sure, he practically swelled when someone called him Mr. Draskin, black was out and he thought having a weird pouf thing attached to his scalp made him 12% cooler, but he was also like a little puppy who followed Tanith, and who doesn't like puppies?
"I take it you're going the same way?" she asked.
"Probably. I'd offer you a ride, but I seem to have misplaced my car."
"I'd still say no. By rooftop in the freezing rain is the only way to travel."
"Ah, like the F1 racers of yore."
"What can I say? I'm a traditionalist."
They stopped at the edge of the rooftop overlooking a large alley. Down below was the body of a blonde woman in a waitress uniform and a few men in greyish costumes and visors, wielding long scythes. Some wielded hunga mungas, curved African blades, attached to staffs. And in the centre was their man, a balding businessman figure: Dominic Perrin.
"Isn't that sweet." Tanith chirped. "The whole family taking a day together."
Perrin heard her. Like she wanted him to.
"Again?" he yelled over the rain. "Really? I've only been out 12 years."
"Well clearly you didn't learn your lesson the last 4 times we caught you." Harvey said. "What's with the dead skirt? Training them?"
"Dom, darling, what did we tell you? You can't sell your DIY Cleavers on the Black Market!"
"Why not? They work. Want to see?"
He clapped his hands.
One of the Cleaver's hunga mungas shot from the staff, with a rope connecting it to the head, and headed straight at Tanith and Harvey. Luckily, it hit the gutter; unluckily, one of Tanith's feet was on the gutter's edge. The weak plastic split open, Tanith's balance going with it.
And down she fell, cracking her back off a dumpster. Weakly swinging her legs over the edge, she saw Perrin disappear through a door behind a wall of Cleavers.
"Follow him!" she yelled to Harvey. "I'll catch up."
Tanith used the large bin to propel herself, taking her sword out mid-air. She plunged it into the first Cleaver's chest, nicking one directly behind him. Shimmying it loose, she saw one readying to release his hunga munga on the rope. She didn't have time, so she did a stupid move: she threw the sword at him. He ducked. It missed, wedging into the cement between bricks.
She ducked another one's swipe, falling to her hunkers. She shot her right leg out, bringing him down. Grabbing his axe as he fell, she pushed upwards back onto her feet, deflecting another Cleaver's downward strike and sending its axe somewhere behind her. She jammed hers in his torso, stuck as if in wood, and gave him a push. He toppled over. As the one who ducked her sword finally came at her again, she turned, gave the last Cleaver's fallen axe an upward kick, and caught it midair. She turned on her heel and sliced open her attacker's belly and jammed a knee in his jaw. He crumbled.
Then two came at once, each swinging down at an angle. She pulled her elbows high up, grabbing just under the right blade with her left, and the left with her right, and yanked them from their grips. Taking a step back, she gave them a slight throw upwards, her hands now midway down the hilts, and slashed outward, cutting diagonally across both their chests. As they dropped, five came at her from different angles, trying to close into a circle. Tanith squatted and dragged one axe around in a circle above her head, cutting deep into all of them and knocking them over.
Tanith stood up. At the end of the alley, two left.
One charged. Tanith tightened her grip, hard, and the hilts snapped below her grip, shortening (and splintering) the wood. She jumped up, spread her legs and swung down. The twin blades jammed in the back of the Cleaver's skull. It toppled over with a splash behind her.
And the last one ran at her. He was armed, she wasn't. Tanith jerked sideways and her foot touched the wall, then the next, and she ran up; the Cleaver was where she was just standing, and she somersaulted backwards off the wall, her feet knocking the scythe from his grip.
Tanith retreated backwards, dodging the Cleaver's punch. As it stepped forward for another, she stuck her forearm in his elbow, keeping his fist at bay, and grabbed his throat with her other hand. She thrust him threw the air, and he hit the wall: the part that had her sword sticking out. A blood-coated version of the handle emerged from his chest. Blood seeped through his grey.
Tanith looked up. Harvey was on the rooftop. He paled when he saw her.
"Um... you ok?"
"Top drawer. Why?"
"Your face, it's kinda... bloody..."
"It's not mine; I'm holding it for a friend."
"Right. I tracked Perrin, but I figured you'd want this one?"
Tanith smiled. "You figured right."
"You still look great, by the way."
Tanith cackled, getting a mouthful of rain. "Darling, you're making me blush!"
"...I'll take your word for it..."
Dominic Perrin sat at his desk, stuffing things into his briefcase. His Cleavers hadn't returned yet, which wasn't a good sign. Better to get out of Romania and start over. Peru, maybe...
And as he clicked the briefcase shut in the dark and pushed out his chair to stand up, he felt, on the back of his neck, the icy tip of a sword.
Donna: What happened? Do you want to talk about it? I have ice cream!
Harvey: It's 8.A.M.
Donna: Which is why God made Chunky Monkey. It has chocolate and bananas. Bananas are part of a healthy breakfast. And who cares about bananas? It has chocolate!...Okay, you caught me: I don't even eat the bananas.
--Donna and Harvey, "Suits".
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