I hope that widget will work... As well as sharing my progress- which as you can see, is not too shabby!- I wanted to share the first excerpt I put up in my NaNoWriMo profile as well. So, without further ado, here is the beginning of Chapter 3 of Book 2 in the Aka Ryuu Series. This is really rough and hasn't been properly edited yet, but I thought I'd share anyway. Enjoy!
The following is copyright Liz Staley 2008, do not repost anywhere without permission!
“And now, ladies and gentlemen, the fight you’ve all been waiting for!”
Andrea stood in the waiting area, just outside of the light and noise from the corwded arena in front of her. The crowd was screaming, bodies writhing like a living thing as people waved and jumped up and down excitedly for the next fight. Andrea “The Tiger” adjusted her wrist wraps as she waited to be introduced.
She honestly was enjoying being back in the ring, despite that she’d only agreed to come back for this tournament. It was for a good cause though- the Hinomoto Martial Arts Society had agreed to donate some of the proceeds to a charity if Andrea came and made an appearance for the main headline fight. So, for one night only, The Tiger had dusted off her old uniform and was about jump back into the ring.
The cheers from the crowd got louder as her opponent was introduced. She felt a rush of adrenaline as she did a few last moment stretches, bouncing a bit on the balls of her feet to get the blood flowing. It was amazing, she hadn’t realized she’d missed this at all, not until she was about to do it for the first time in over a year.
“And in the other corner, the fighter you’ve all come here to see, no doubt! She’s back just for tonight, and you’re certainly in for a hell of a fight. The one, the only, Andrea ‘The Tiger’!”
The silver-haired woman walked out and into the spotlight, heading down the ramp and then ducking under the ropes into the ring. She turned around as the crowd roared and chanted her name. Andrea waved to the crowd while her opponent- a rather large man with an almost Mongolian look to him- stood quietly and waited for the fight to start.
Andrea waved to and smiled at the assembled Aka Ryuu in the front row. D, Kanjou, Roni, and Fushicho were all there to watch her. It had taken an act of God to get Roni to blow off her study group for the day in order to come, but Andrea had manged to tug at the girl’s heartstrings some. Despite the fact that the purple-haired girl was some immersed in her education, she still did love to watch Andrea fight.
While the silver-haired ronin did a bit more pandering to the crowd, the Aka Ryuu cheered from their seats. Roni cupped her hands, getting into the moment and shouting, “Get ‘im, Andrea! He’s can’t be anywhere near as tough as Foxfire!”
Kanjou and Roni exchanged a glance, each of them grinning. They both were remembering the fateful night when they’d first met Andrea- back when she’d been a tournament fighter at Tony’s Place. Using one blast of ki, she’d won against Foxfire and impressed both of them. Of course, they’d found out later that Foxfire hated the tournament scene and also regarded Andrea as his closest friend despite the rather large age gap between them, but at the time the fight had been exciting.
The fight had also taken place in a falling apart ring, and under a cloud of cigarette smoke and the stench of old alcohol, but that was another matter.
Suddenly, the bell rang, signaling the start of the fight. Andrea came in from her corner, heading toward her opponent. The man rushed at her, pulling back his fist and swinging it for her head. Andrea ducked down, practically going into a squat as she avoided the blow.
The Tiger sprang up after the man’s arm had passed by above her, straightening her bent legs as quickly as she could to launch herself in the air. She brought her knee up as she went, slamming it in to her opponent’s exposed shoulder. He staggered to the side a bit as Andrea’s feet hit the mat, her hands coming up in fists to a defensive stance. “Come on,” she muttered with a grin. Her opponent complied, turning back to face her once he'd regained his footing and swinging at her again.
Above the top levels of the bleachers of spectators, a dark figure balanced on a metal support beam beneath the dome of the auditorium. A long prehensile tail clasped around the beam as the figure laid spread out on it, a sniper rifle resting on a tripod in front of them. Two huge yellow eyes caught a bit of the light for a moment before one shut and the other narrowed to look into the scope.
A small device in the figure’s ear crackled quietly and then the skulking figure heard a voice coming from the tinny speaker. “Ujurak, report. Do you have the shot?” the voice asked.
Ujarak was silent for a moment, the prehensile tail tightening a bit in agitation as he looked through the scope, lining it up on the ring below him. “Of course I do,” he whispered back, despite that no one would have been able to hear him over the din of the cheering crowd beneath him.
“Remember, you’re not killing her. Just shoot to wound.”
Ujarak looked through the scope again, then reached up and removed it from the holder it was in on his gun. He put the scope into a leather utility pocket on his belt, deciding he didn't need it from this short of a distance. He opened his large yellow eye a bit more and focused on the silver-haired woman far below him in the ring. “Are you sure? I could kill her from this distance- it wouldn’t be difficult at all.”
“No! You are absolutely not, under any circumstances, to kill her!” growled the voice in his ear. “We need Andrea slowed and the Aka Ryuu demoralized, not to have one of them dead. She won’t allow it! Now, do your job and get back here. We still have to prepare.”
“Alright. Ujarak out.” He reached up and pulled the communication device from his ear, tucking it back in a shirt pocket. He grabbed hold of the rifle again and put a clawed finger on the trigger, lining up his shot carefully.
Down below, Andrea took a blow to the stomach that sent her spinning back. The crowd let out a collective gasp and the Aka Ryuu in the stands cheered louder, urging their leader on. Her opponent came running at her, she put her arm up and parried the blow that was aimed for her face, bringing back her fist as she charged up some ki.
“Koroshiya Dan Ha!” A flash of energy went from Andrea’s fist and into the man’s torso as she struck him. The cheering got louder from the crowd as he staggered back. Andrea knew that she was about to win, so she allowed herself to get back the signature cocky grin that she had worn all the time before two years ago.
As she was about to step forward and let out a kick toward her opponent, something from the ceiling caught Andrea’s eye. There was a split second flash of light- just a small pin prick of it- from near the ceiling of the auditorium above the crowd. Immediately following it, pain ripped through her shoulder. She stopped her forward assault and looked down, aware that the crowd had gone eerily quiet.
The ronin’s blue eyes widened a bit as she saw that her shoulder was bleeding, staining her white tank top as blood began to seep on to it and down her arm. She blinked just as someone let out a shrill scream from the crowds. As though it were on cue, Andrea’s legs suddenly gave out from under her and she fell in a crumpled heap onto the mat.
She was vaguely aware of screaming as she watched the Aka Ryuu leaping out of their seats in the stands and running toward her, and then her world went black.
Far above the chaos that he was caused, the sniper took apart his gun, tucking it into a bag that he wrapped his tail around before he scurried across the metal beams like a lizard. In less than a minute after Andrea had been shot, he was out on the roof of the stadium. In the daylight it was easy to see that he was a kemono- most of his features were rather like a lizard’s, including a scaled ridge along the back of his neck, but his eyes were rather large and bird-like, and he had a sharp beak at the front of his head.
He sank his claws into the side of the building, what was visible of his skin shifting slightly from the green it had been to a more muted tan like the side of the stadium was. Ujarak quickly climbed straight down the side of the place and then jumped off onto the ground. He stuck his clawed hands in his pockets and walked casually away across the parking lot.