Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Short Fiction: Liza the Persistent

Liza the Persistent
by Void Munashii

    “This is it,” Liza whispers to herself as she stand outside the door to Draal’s corner penthouse suite. She readies herself for the culmination of twenty years of work towards making good on her childhood vow..

    She had been warned against this course her whole life, it had been explained to her that trying to kill a dragon could only end in her own death, and when dealing with a spiteful monster like Draal, the deaths of those she cares about.

    Nevertheless she persisted.

    The name Liza the Persistent was one she had earned through years of never giving up on any goal. If you knocked her down, she got back up. If you broke her leg, she came back even more determined when it healed. That determination eventually turned into skill.

    She had learned to fight, planned, plotted, and killed to get to this point. She had fought her way to the top of Draal’s tower, the last skyscraper in Draal’s Claim, killing any who crossed her path with well aimed bullets from her silenced twin pistols.

    Now all that remains between her and her quarry, between her and death or freedom, is a door. She opens that door.

    Draal, his copper skin shining in the sunlight streaming in through the skylights looks down at her from atop a bed of gold coins, bars, and jewelry. His gut is huge, something they always manage to shoot around on TV. It has been years since the dragon left his lair; he certainly hasn’t done so during Liza’s lifetime.

    Liza wonders if his wings would even support him in the air anymore.

    “You are a sad, pathetic creature,” the dragon says to the robed figure before him, “You may have killed my people; brave people who you have taken from their families-”

    “Collaborators,” Liza spits, “Traitors to humanity.”

    “But you think you can kill me with those pitiful guns? Did you do no research at all?”

    “The guns aren’t for you,” Liza says, tossing them away.

    Liza shrugs off her robe, it puddles around her feet, revealing black coveralls, a pair of empty holsters and loops for extra magazines (only two magazines remain), a small backpack, and the handles of a pair of short swords sticking out from the small of her back.

    Liza pulls the swords; they gleam with magical light,” These are for you!”

    Draal rears back at the sight of the swords, threatened for the first time in decades, and exhales a stream of liquid fire at the small woman.

    Liza runs forward, under the fire as they set her robe and the floor she was standing on aflame. She slashes at the dragon’s bulbous gut with her blades, slicing through his flesh so that his crimson blood flows onto his bed of gold.

    Draal roars at pain he has likely never before felt, and kicks at Liza, sending her flying.

    In a controlled panic, Liza extends her right arm, and fires her wrist grapple towards the room’s glass ceiling. The small dart punches through the thick glass, and catches. Liza’s shoulder sends a protest of pain as her momentum is redirected at the end of the grapple line. Instead of flying towards the wall, now she swings up towards the glass ceiling.

   The dragon is slow from his years of sedentary life, and when he whips his head to try and snap her out of the air in his powerful jaws he misses her completely, but instead catches her grapple line with his neck. Liza’s shoulder again screams pain at her as she is yanked down swinging under the dragon.

    She tries to strike at the dragon’s throat as she swings under it, but misses by inches. She arcs up on the other side of Draal, the grapple line wrapping around his neck, and comes down between where his wings meet his back. She drives the sword in her left hand into the creature’s shoulder, anchoring her in place as the sluggish beast tries to throw her off.

    Liza can feel Draal tense under her, and suddenly he extends his wings.The dragon leaps upwards, and Liza tucks her head down as the copper coloured monster smashes through the glass ceiling and into the air. A glittering rain of broken glass and pieces of gold shower down on the streets below.

    The fat, lazy dragon takes gracelessly to the sky, flying over his city, jerking to the left and right, while climbing in a tight spiral as he tries to shake the persistent human free. She merely drives the sword into her right hand into his back to steady herself.

    “You are a pathetic girl,” the dragon roars, “You will lose!”

    Liza, seeing the city grow smaller below her, realizes her time is short. She pulls one sword free from Draal’s back, and stabs it in again farther up towards the back of his neck. She then pulls the other sword free and does the same.

    Hand over hand, Liza climbs up the back of the dragon’s thick neck. By the time she reaches Draal’s head she is covered in his blood. She is becoming lightheaded from the altitude, and having trouble getting enough air.

    “Just give up,” Draal says, “Maybe I won’t kill everyone you have ever known if you give up now.

    “Never!” cries Liza as she straddles Draal’s neck like a cowboy riding a bull. With her left blade dug in deep, she begins to hack at the back of the dragon’s neck with her right. He thrashes his head back and forth, but cannot share her free.

    Draal roars in pain.

    A normal sword would never be able to penetrate the dragon’s tough scale and bones, let alone behead the beast, but Liza’s blade severs the spinal column on her third strike, causing Draal’s body to become paralyzed. Ascent slows, and then the two begin to drop from the sky like cloth wrapped stone, Draal’s wings flapping uselessly in the wind.

    Liza shrieks as she brings the sword down a fourth time, then a fifth, severing the dragon's head completely, and silencing Draal’s unintelligible bellowing. The severed head drifts away from the body as they fall.

    Her enemy slain, Liza pulls her anchor sword from the headless neck, unfastens her wrist grapple, now hopelessly wrapped around the dead dragon, and kicks off and away from the monster’s body. She tumbles through the air, the city rushing up to meet her.

    Liza slides the gore-covered blades into their sheathes on her back, and pulls a cord on the strap of her backpack. A flap opens, and a patchwork of fabric billows out into the shape of a simple parachute.  

    As her descent slows, Liza has time to realize how beautiful her city is; how it still looks a lot like the pictures she has seen of it from the before time.

    She also realizes, as she sees Draal’s body crash into the top of his tower below her, that for the first time in her life that she can remember, she is free of her vow. Not only is she free, but the whole of Draal’s Claim is now free.

    She drifts slowly towards the ground, and wonders what will happen now. Will the other dragons come and avenge their fallen brother? She does not suppose so, as there was famously no love lost between Draal and his draconic brethren. He had a habit of publicly referring to them as “losers” who were jealous of his success despite the fact that Draal’s Claim was easily the worst of the dragon lands: rife with poverty and violence.

    There is every chance that the other dragons will let the humans here rule themselves, which doesn’t mean that things will suddenly become a utopia, Liza knows that. Freedom is not free; there will be struggle, there will be fighting, there will be hard work, there will probably even be blood, but she hopes her people will be up to the challenge.
    This feeling of freedom makes her more anxious than her mission to kill Draal ever did.


Author's Note:

"Freedom" is exactly the sort of prompt that make me wish I were a satirist, but I am not, so this is what you get.

Hopefully someone else taking this challenge from Clever Fiction will be of a more satirical bent, but the only way to find out it to head over the the Clever Fiction Writing Challenge page to see what other authors have to say on the concept of "Freedom"

Here's a funny thing I see while writing this: as of this post, I have added as much new content to this blog this month as I did the entirety of last year. I don't know what to make of that.

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