Thursday, 8 December 2011

Chapter 1.

Stealth, Martial Arts, and Discarded Pizza

For most of her life, Taia had lived on the streets, but although she’d had no real education, her range of vocabulary was astounding, as was her knowledge on some areas of Biology, physics, and various different languages. She knew a fair amount of history, from many different viewpoints, and could point out countries on a globe or a map, if she had a map or a globe to look at. And she wasn’t too bad at maths either, provided the problem didn’t involve multiplication or division, that is. But on the whole, she was pretty clever, for a homeless 13 year old girl, and could probably just about pass as a normal teenage girl, as long as she wasn’t asked to spell anything, of course. But her real skills lay far beyond the national curriculum. Because she had been wandering around the streets since she was five, she had picked up a lot of tips and tricks about how to survive. These tips included various different forms of stealth, self-defence, martial arts, and other ways to beat people senseless, but her favourite was one that she hadn’t learnt from some random person she met on the street who had agreed to teach her (though she didn’t usually leave them much choice) and then added her one twist to it, but one that she had taught herself over many, many years. And on this particular form of aggression, some may even consider her to be a master, but she liked to keep it hidden well, only use it if it was needed. And this time, it most certainly wasn’t.
The man, a scrawny chap, with ragged clothing and an unseemly smirk, posed little threat to a girl of her proficiency. She knew how innocuous she could seem at times – people didn’t tend to expect a thirteen year old to be much of a hazard, after all. And it was obvious that this man was no different to many others – completely unaware of her strength. Taia didn’t like to underestimate her opponents but this time, there was no doubting how easy this was going to be.
She let him take the first strike, flinging an aimless punch at her. She ducked, dropping to the ground, sliding forward and kicking him hard in the shins. He howled and lashed out with his feet, but she dodged expertly and flipped over on to her feet beside him. A fist slammed into his face and he was on the ground before he had even registered his feet being swept from under him.
The man groaned. Taia looked down at him pitifully and found herself feeling sorry for him. It wasn’t his fault, he hadn’t realised what that pendant meant to her, and obviously he needed money just as much as she did. But he had still tried to take it from her, which was something she couldn’t allow. She opened her mouth to mutter something along the lines of an apology, but decided against it, turning and walking away instead.
It wasn’t that she enjoyed beating the living daylights out of people, she actually rather disliked the idea when put in that context, but even she had to admit, she was good at it. Sighing, she sat on an old cardboard box and looked down at the pendant hanging from her neck on a thin, but strangely strong silver chain. Her father had given it to her when she was four, and she hadn’t removed it from her neck since. And, though she didn’t remember it ever being too big, she knew it must have been once. After all, necklaces don’t grow, do they?
She’d watched this memory so many times before, but it never grew old. It was the first and the last memory she had of her father, and she treasured it as dearly as the pedant he had given her. She heard a rustling below her, and looked down to see an inquisitive face looking up at her. The face belonged to a hungry-looking rat, and she smiled and rummaged around the boxes and bins where she was sitting until she found a stash of old snacks, specially selected scraps that she had found lying around.
Putting her memories aside for the night, Taia sat on her cardboard shelter and shared a dinner of discarded pizza with the company of a quiet rat. It wasn’t particularly hygienic, but people like her didn’t have the luxury of cleanliness.