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Ecalsneerg's NaNoWriMo


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So, this month is National Novel Writing Month, where you must write 50,000 words in the month of November. Which is somewhat of a slog. So I have decided to prove to myself that, like the little engine, yes I can.

My story is about a conman and thief in Victorian London called Christopher Kenzie. After a heist goes badly, he gets dragged into a thickening plot which eventually leads to him becoming one of the mystery men which are part of my alternate universe of steampunk and Badass Normals.

While it does use aspects of Geckoman's history and so forth, and his fundamental character, it is a fairly different take on things, and is not canonically part of the Freedom City Multiverse. But since I'm not trying to publish, I thought I'd throw up some of my writings for people to enjoy.

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Chapter One

In Which We Meet Our Protagonist

While it was with my head that I impacted the roof slates, the pain seemed to spread across my entire body. I slid down the rooftop, uttering obscenities as I slid along the rough material, until I reached the edge and proceeded to free fall.

It was then perhaps lucky for me that some considerate costermonger had left a crate full of ripe oranges in that particular place. Rolling from my landing in a hail of splinters and orange juice, I immediately checked my pocket for my cargo, and proceeded to sprint down the street, ignoring the incredulous stares of the passers-by. Honestly, it was if a man falling from a window and landing on the street wasn't an everyday occurrence.

And then one of the cobbles exploded behind me. As a shard of flying stone embedded itself in my ankle, I stumbled and for the second time in less than a minute found myself rolling along the ground.

I glanced up at the window where I'd come leaping forth from. A portly gentleman with a truly magnificent moustache and a large hunting rifle leaned forth from it, aiming intently at where I lay. As the second shot fired, I rolled and narrowly avoided being shot in the heart as a second cobblestone shattered from the force of a powerful bullet.

Apparently the household had not taken kindly to me stealing their possessions. So I once more leapt to my feet and sprinted through the now-panicking crowd, shoulder barging past tradesmen, rolling between the legs of startled horses, and trampling laid-out goods in my haste.

But the crowd was simply hindering me at this stage of the panic, especially as two more shots fired overhead. I wasn't progressing anywhere fast, and thus had to resort to a second option. I turned sharply to my right, and sprinted straight towards a sheer brick wall. Practised momentum carried me up the wall far enough to push my feet off the ground floor window ledge.

I lightly sprang up and grabbed the next window ledge, pulling myself up and rolling so that I crashed through the glass and landed on my feet in the room behind it. Well, until I slid on the soapy water on the ground. When my head finally stopped ringing from the constant impacts with solid surfaces, my ears began to ring from the high-pitched female scream emanating from somewhere near me.

Scrabbling across the floor, I tried to avert my eyes from the woman bathing just a few feet from me. “Sorry, ma'am, urgent business,†I said, slipping and sliding on the tiles. “Won't trouble you for long.†Finally, I managed to make it to the door, dragging myself to my feet with my hands pressed against the wooden frame.

Only to get knocked on my back again as the door burst inwards and a manservant with a venerable looking cavalry sabre forced his way in to defend his mistress. I sighed. Just what I needed. I rolled backwards and sprang to my feet to avoid the sweeping slash which ended up only carving a swathe into the floor.

The man was clearly possessed of a good many decades, but his grizzled, scarred face and grim countenance pointed to him clearly being some form of ex-soldier. I didn't want to be caught up fighting him, as unarmed and tired as I was. Yet I didn't want to severely injure him either, he was only doing his job after all. I tried to bare that in mind as I ducked a sweeping horizontal swipe, my right hand shooting out to grab the man's arm as my whole body twisted around, flinging the servant around and behind me.

A swift kick to the shins sent him sliding to the wet floor, and I was off once more, running out into the corridors of the house. I grinned as the maid screamed and ducked into a side room as she saw the madman running through the house, leaping up and onto her abandoned tea trolley. My momentum carried myself and the trolley rolling down the hall and towards the stairs leading down to the entrance.

Another servant stood at the foot of the stairs, a battered old service revolver held in his hand. Damn and blast. This looked about to become an even trickier situation. Some days, I just didn't have any luck. So I did what any self-respecting criminal would do, and improvised a distraction.

My bowler hat was aimed well, and he had to lift an arm to swipe it away from his face. Which was when I kicked my feet upwards just as I reached the staircase, the trolley lifting up and off the ground. Crockery shattered and metal clanged as the trolley bounced down the stairs, forcing the gunman to jump to the side to avoid it.

Which is when I came sliding down the bannister, flying down them at speed and vaulting over the mess I'd just caused to continue my mad flight towards the door. A bullet ricocheted inches from my left ear as I pulled open the door and bounded out into the street once more.

Right into the arms of two somewhat angry looking policemen. Both of them were stocky looking gentlemen, their truncheons held ready to apprehend the dangerous criminal causing havoc on the streets. Evidently, crashing through the window had alerted them to my position. Thankfully, surprise was still on my side. Not many officers of the law expect their quarry to run out of their hiding hole clean into their grasp.

So I kicked the left one hard in both shins and shoulder barged the man to the ground. His partner growled and swung his truncheon into the small of my back. Ouch. That hurt.

“Hand yourself in, son!†he snarled as he advanced towards me, weapon held in front of him. “You're in more than enough trouble to see you locked away for a long while.†As if I didn't know that already. My back was hurting considerably, and I could only turn to face him and back away unsteadily.

“Listen, officer,†I said, hands held out in front of me. “There has clearly been some form of misunderstanding. Maybe if we talked about this, we could-â€

“No,†came the gruff answer, cutting me off. How rude. At least let a gentleman finish his sentence before dismissing his ideas. To punctuate his course opinion, he lunged at me, his length of sturdy oak held high in front of him. So I stepped into his guard and kneed him in the groin.

Don't judge me for that, dear reader, for I know it isn't the best thing to do to a respectable law-abiding citizen. But he hit me with his truncheon. I was not in the best temper with the man.

I followed up my strike with a quick one-two to the officer's rib cage, finally spinning just as his partner rose to his feet and came at me. I forward flipped over his head, landing back to back and jabbing my elbow backwards to the base of his skull. Without pausing to gauge his reaction, I fled.

Now, you probably have an impression of myself as being somewhat of a coward from all the running I have thus described. And, yes. I am. You do not get ahead in my line of business by sticking around to get into a bout of fisticuffs, especially when you're in the middle of a job. So, yes. I ran. Through the streets, down alleyways, heading down towards the Thames like the hounds of Hell were at my feet. I barely paused to take stock of my surroundings, I was moving so intently, and so quickly.

Which is how the Scarlet Swordsman managed to get the drop on me. He burst forth from behind a small cart of eggs, and caused me to near drop dead of shock and fright. And swiftly after those emotions hit me, cold terror began to creep up my spine.

Reader, you will inevitably be familiar with England's tradition of masked mystery men, thwarting crimes and protecting the so-called innocent wherever they tread. And you will likely have heard of the Scarlet Swordsman. Clad all over in crimson leather (no, not scarlet, I have an eye for these things. It makes it easier to prioritise what would be more valuable and thus whether to steal it), and hidden behind a domino mask, no one knew who he was, or from whence he hailed. But his skill with a rapier was to my knowledge unparalleled. There were tales in my circles of men who had valiantly, and idiotically, tried to fight him. Not a single one had ever defeated him, and as he came at me at near inhuman speeds, I could understand why.

Without injuring me, he managed to sweep his sword in front of my shins and trip me using the incredibly sharp looking metal blade. “Halt!†came his commanding voice, a deep bass which brooked no disobedience or contradiction. And, unfortunately, I have this problem with authority.

Which is perhaps why, despite knowing how suicidal this ploy was, I landed on my hands and spun my legs around in a whip-like motion, catching the mystery man on the chin. As he was thrown sideways from the force of my blow, I continued my roll forwards, coming to my feet in a loose fighting stance, legs spread to balance myself and my fists bobbing to and fro before my face, facing my foe as he brought himself into a similar stance.

I was going to die. That was my only thought as I engaged the world's deadliest swordsman in a fist fight. And yet idiot pride forced me to keep doing it. The Swordsman's first strike was flawless, aimed at my chest at just the right angle to maximise damage, while not leaving any opening for a smart opponent to exploit. Except for one.

He still had to hold his sword in his hand. And, as fast as he was, I was no slouch in that department, grabbing his wrist and twisting it hard. The blade spun like the hand on a clock, rotating out of any position to harm me. Any satisfaction this momentary victory had brought me was swiftly dispelled by my vision going white with pain as my nose suddenly felt like it had exploded. The bastard had head butted me before I could even react. A thick boot stomped on my left foot, shooting more of that atrocious white hot agony shooting up my leg.

Somehow, I contrived to keep clinging to the Swordsman's sword hand, even as white stars circled around my visual field. I aimed a clumsy right hook at him, but he simply swivelled his wrist back around, even with the force I was exerting on it, and parried my punch with the flat of his blade. “A nice effort,†he commented quietly. “You're uncommonly fast, I must commend that.â€

“Thank you,†I said graciously... or as graciously as one could manage in such circumstances. My entire body ached. My head was still pounding from the roof and my torso had collided with so many surfaces that I was sure to be an elegant tapestry of bruising tomorrow morning. My foot ached, and I could taste the warm blood flooding forth from my nose.

So I just let the pain wash over me, my legs crumpling beneath me. I lay there with that vicious blade held to my throat as the police arrived, shackling me and roughly manhandling me into the back of a carriage.


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