literature

Thief

Deviation Actions

Literature Text

A blade twirled in her fingers, not shining, but glowing faintly in blue moonlight and bright pink neon that flickered from one of the nearest rooftops. It tipped, black gloves concealing the fingers that sent the knife dancing to her tune. A nervous habit perhaps? And yet the poise of the woman they belonged to suggested nothing but complete purpose. Certainty of her place, and of her plan. Like her fingers, her body was clad in functional black and grey, her figure vanishing into the wall behind her. Her belt and fastenings were dulled, and a hood over her face, concealing most of it from sight. The wind, unruly as ever, teased a few stray strands of jet black hair from beneath the shroud.

The faint buzz of a phone, and she slapped a hand against it, bringing out, not a smartphone,  but an antique. Something cheap, plastic and functional. Harder to trace. She answered it quickly, pausing, head cocked, as though to check if anyone heard. But she was alone on the roof. Just her and the howling wind.. and her voice

“It's ready.”

A pause while her unseen conversationalist spoke, the blade twirling again, blurry pink lines flickering over the satin surface like oil, betraying irritation.

“It will start at midnight, as arranged. Not a minute before.”

There was the snap impatience in her response, and then, for a long time there was silence,  before she nodded bruskly, her eyes glinting under the hood.

“You know the deal. Don't call me. I'll call you. You'll know when it's done.”

She cut it off. For the first time her eyes swept the city before her. Streets that glowed red and white with cars. Windows lit to screen where a million lives played out. And of course all those lurid multicoloured lights. Neon, signs, advertising boards. The stench of consumerism perhaps. Not that she cared much. Somewhere out there, amongst the streets and buildings of Shanghai, was her target. That was what mattered.

She was Daiyu, the Black Jade. Thief, assassin, mercenary. The jobs too dark for the day she did.

Her lips curled into a smile for the first time, and from her glove she withdrew a fine jewelled needle, alive with blue and white beads of light. She turned it, watching the beads shift and flicker over the steel, turned the point downwards and, with a swift sureness, jabbed it down into the concrete roof. It shouldn't have pierced it, but it did, the lights vanishing into the surface, out of sight. Nobody would ever know that thin sliver of metal were even there.

“Make it messy. Make it loud.”

She chuckled to herself. A strange request for one who lived in the shadows. But loud they wanted. Loud they would get. And moments later, she was gone. Once more the lonely wind singing its mournful song in the empty heights.

********

It paid to be generous, and she was. Tipping every porter and busser. The little people. The ones who saw and said nothing, who spewed secrets with no idea of their value, or their cost. Of course Daiyu could coax the lips of most, weaving a thread of chatter and idiocy that tempted them to betray. Not that they ever knew it. She cast aside guise and persona as one would change clothes, fleeting from role to role, and story to story. And yet she had no story to call her own. She was the weaver, the builder, the one who prodded the tales down one path or another.

As for her target: Li Hua was the perfect Daddy's princess. Pretty in pink, laughing, dancing, perhaps a few too many drinks to teeter atop those heels. Her dark hair tinted blonde at the tips. Only that night her own driver had led the arbiter of change to this place. A spilt drink, flattery and money in the palm had taken care of him. He never knew he sold her out.

Daiyu watched, yet did not watch, fending off the advances of the cream of society with banter and airy laughter, counting down the time. Waiting. At ten to twelve she moved, drifting through those too drunk or busy to notice, leaving them to their amusement.

Ten minutes.

The princess always turned to pauper at midnight.

********

If there was a time for regret, it was now. A few minutes where the lone figure watched, her finger hovering absently over a dull panel on her arm. This was the moment things could have gone another way. The future hanging on a precipice, guided by the black clad digit.

But.. the job was paid, the contract set. She never went back on a deal. And this was no different. Her hand moved. The future held its breath.

It was perhaps disappointing that there was no impressive light show. No golden lines to criss cross the sky with power, no thunder, nor swirling tempest as the sky broiled. Instead there was simply a blink, and a square of landscape winked out of existence. One moment there, the next gone. And the only sound was a few structures collapsing into the void. Their other half sliced away by this invisible line.

Daiyu gave a satisfied nod from her vantage, even as the cries of shock and horror rose.. the entire centre of the city had simply become nothing. Carved away in a perfect square, the lights reflecting over the rivers that poured into the void, carrying ships and other vessels down into the angular crater. The deed was done, and so she left, and not one person in the shell shocked city had a glance to spare for the perpetrator.

********

Darkness dropped on the city as though a shroud had been thrown atop it. The pretty lights and neon snapping away to invisibility. Each person bumbling around in a personal universe ruled by sound and touch. Voices called into the blackness for partners or missing young, estranged by this confusion. Only vehicle headlights remained. The roads crossing like glowing arteries through the dark city. It wasn't long before a new twinkling speckled the streets and rooms. Phones showing pallid faces in this eternal night. But once the initial panic faded, people came to realise there was something else wrong with the world.

The stars were gone. And the air lay still and silent. No breeze or breath to sweeten the foul urban air. No planes either, and the rivers sloshed and churned up against an impenetrable wall. A wall that surrounded a square of city on all sides, passing through half cleaved skyscrapers and roads and rising far out of sight. It reflected the faces of people attempting to peer through it, smooth and dark, opaque. It showed only their own prison back to them.

Whispers spread through the streets. Phones would not ring, and so it spread by rumour and frightened hiss. They were trapped but…. Where?

Daiyu decided to answer for them.

A click and there was light. Yellow light that washed through every street, chasing the oppressive darkness and swallowing the shadows where they festered. The city lay exposed and naked, its anonymity removed. And people who, moments before had wished for light, now cursed it as the sudden intensity burned their eyes… and….

..the sky was gone.

Instead was a surface of brown and grey, speckled with green like some lichen on a cave wall, yet far far over their heads. And it was while the very smartest in the city below were working out what had happened, that in one corner the shadows detached themselves, giving a blurry form to their fears. A deep throb like the heartbeat of the earth rippled their city, thrumming through delicate skyscrapers and shaking down a shroud of dust. But the figure moved closer, black clad and hooded, her face masked so only dark eyes glittered down at the spread of the city below. Each footstep shaking them despite the lightness of her tread.

Daiyu stepped forth from the shadow where she had hid, observing the minute shufflings she could barely perceive, a smile hidden by the mask while she moved to the edge of their space, leaning casually against the rough rock face that hid this acquisition. A glass, alone larger than any of the skyscrapers Shanghai had to offer, was balanced delicately on black gloved fingers, filled with some lightly fizzing golden liquid. She tipped it in toast towards her spectators, pulled down her mask and sipped. For a second the microscopic populace saw her lips against the glass, and then it was gone, replaced with jet fabric that hid all but eyes.

Daiyu ignored them a while more, seemingly enjoying watching the rows of structures, and imagining that panic on the streets beneath her. She slowly sipped her champagne, and soon returned with a second glass, once more the thud of her step rippling the rivers and shaking the structures. Close to she was more than terrifying. Almost alien. Her boots rose over the walls that corralled the city, each fold in the leather a valley, a vast, vertical black landscape carrying the faintest scent of leather to wash over the walls. The faint creasing of the material an audible moan to the populace. The tallest building in the city, once aptly named a megastructure, couldn't even reach the rim of her boot. Entire streets could have been lost in their treads.

She finally broke the silence, her voice soft, yet it permeated every room and basement, rumbled through the subways and lightly rattled glass in its frame.

“I was pleased to see your rivers didn't drain much in the transference,” she mused. One black clad arm dissected the city with its shadow, gesturing to the winding path of the water. “It doesn't matter much but it does look neater with it,  don't you think?” The shadow moved away, but the looming figure remained, tipping the glass once more.
“I am afraid I started the party a little early. But there's plenty. A little treat for you.”

The glass tilted, and for a moment they could see the pale liquid swirl through the distorted curve of the glass, thinning and rushing towards that lip. It took an eternity to fall, the endless stream reflecting the light until it struck the still water of the river. The force of the fall was enough to part the water. Sending a tsunami washing up over the banks, sloshing through avenues and tossing up trees, cars and people into a churning flood. The subtle scent of the rich drink saturated the air, pouring in the wake of the surging tide even before the river surged back to reclaim its path,churning with amber liquid that formed a froth of white bubbles. Colossal foam roiled and hissed, fighting the river for mastery of its course, raising the level up its banks.

Boats and ferries were the first real casualties though. Rice sized vessels that had survived the trip there only to be consumed by a tidal wave of foaming, pungent alcohol and tipped and swallowed by the mingled river. It took awhile for the fizz and foam to settle, laying like white pools to stain the surface of the river, the expanse choked by a slow spread of drink that would poison fish and destroy whatever was left of an ecosystem there. The fume alone enough to make the closest flecks woozy.

Daiyu showed them neither compassion nor amusement, watching all this with a detached coldness one would reserve for simply sweeping away a nest of ants. The glass was righted, the last drops swirling back down to the bottom as translucent gold, and then she brought it down with devastating force in the midst of low buildings. The clear glass smashed through constructions like they were made of sand, pulverising floors and people alike beneath it. A street of cars made a distorted ribbon speckled with coloured dots, the deed clearly visible through thick glass. The wash of displaced air kicked up cars and people and blew out windows, and a wide ring of grey dust surged from the impact. That itself was a boom like no other. Enough to deafen, yet the soft voice of the woman rose above it still.

“Right,” she snapped curtly, businesslike even. “Now I have your undivided attention. Listen carefully.”

The delicate crystal glass stood like a monument in the city, rearing over skyscrapers, catching the light and transforming it into rainbows cast down atop the stolen city. What choice did the populace have but to listen? There was no place in all their confine they could drown the sound of her voice.

********

Li cowered with the rest of her friends, eerie phone light making their faces look ghostly in the dark recesses of the bar, not daring to brave the light or the awesome spectacle of their impossible captor. They all heard the screams and sounds of roaring liquid, all fell as one when the glass was slammed down into the busy streets. And now they were forced to listen to that soft, all encompassing voice as it framed a tale of shadowy figures and corporate espionage, deals and blackmail. Alcohol had numbed her senses, but they wondered why she was telling them this. What this could possibly mean for them. That is.. until that voice outlined exactly what it was she wanted.

There was a hush like rustling silk as every pair of eyes found her own, the monstrous entity thrumming her name to the broken Shanghai:
“Fang Li Hua”

Li cringed back from the gaze of her friends and the growl of the voice, shaking as though singled out by god. It wasn't too far from the truth. And Daiyu continued, relentless.

“Yes. I know where you are. And if you're wise you will stay there. You are their ticket out of here.”

She stumbled as the floor moved, and there was a distant roar of wind, soon drowned out by a boom that set her ears ringing. Then a jolt that flung her bodily into the air, limbs flailing for some purchase, only to smash back down atop the floor in a heap. Dust poured from the ceiling, dislodged from its hibernation of ages to glitter and whiten the heaped people below. Lesser earthquakes followed the first, and distant creaks and crumbles, the unmistakable, unseen demise of neighbourhoods.

“Li?” The voice lilted, amused. “Come up to the roof and see how important you are.”

It was ridiculous. The woman had no way of seeing her, no way of knowing whether she obeyed or not, and yet disobedience never crossed her mind. Perhaps she wanted to know herself, or perhaps Li was trapped in some waking dream and none of this was real. The crowds parted for her and she staggered up stairs and through choked halls of the building, back into the cruel, bright light, coughing the dust from her throat.

“Look up.” Could she see her? The dark eyes far above pinning her down like a bug.. a microbe beneath her gaze? Was it possi-
“I said look up. I won't ask again” The very air vibrated with the low, amused tone. Structures practically humming in tune with each word. Li immediately felt exposed. Despite the towering structures like walls, despite the people, she felt bare and naked. A mortal brought low before a deity.

Li did indeed look up at that point. The lower portion of the being was obscured by skyscrapers and debris, but her upper rose far above where the cloud layer should be. Dull black fabric, crossed with fibres as thick as trees, encasing a body that rose above the floating dust and grit in the air. Far over, dark eyes creased into a smile above the mask. Daiyu shifted her weight, and the city rocked and crunched again. Li saw then, her eyes snapping down to where the woman had stepped over the wall and into their prison.
Each dark boot had leveled blocks beneath their weight. Massive skyscrapers and rows of vehicles buried beneath them. A ring of debris marked the outline of each shoe. And from here she could see the gaping cracks that split the very ground beneath the fleeing people's feet.

Her hand covered her mouth in shock. How many hundreds had been ground to dust beneath those boots? People who had no hope of getting out of her way before the darkness and crushing weight took them? And the woman seemed unconcerned by all this death, instead drawing out something dull from her sleeve. It twirled in thoughtful fingers, a blade, hundreds of feet across, the edge as keen and cruel as it's mistress.

“Your phones will work now. You're all free to use them. Record, or phone your families. Ask for aid or make peace with those outside. For some of you, at least, will die this day. But as for you…” The knife was pointed downwards, exactly at Li, pinned between two gloved fingers as thick as a skyscraper. “I want you to call your Daddy. I have a message for him.” The blade retreated, now balanced lightly atop those fingertips while the hidden face curved into a smile. “A video call, if you please.”

********

Business was strictly business, and casualties were unfortunate. Daiyu was accustomed to avoiding them where she could. And this deal, profitable though it was, was far outside her usual range jobs. She was then, surprised at the faint stirrings of pleasure in her gut. A delightful twinge at the sense of impossible power she held.. not of one life, oblivious, moving through the sights of a rifle scope, but millions. Filled with terror and fear. Knowing she was there.

She rolled back a sleeve, a little square of blue lit from the screen there. Already the news feeds outside were filling with the first footage. She watched herself from her own feet, men yelling and gibbering as they turned the little window upwards. She smiled. Somewhere. Down there. Amongst that minute grid of roads, the owner of this voice stood. Gazing over the lip of her boot, up the endless canyons of vertical leather. A shift would be enough to take his life. Her toes curled in their confine, remembering the sensation of plunging her shoes into their city, feeling it resist only a second before caving in beneath her step. The dust rising in an arc epicentred around her simple soles.

Her musing was interrupted. The wrist panel lit up as the call connected, and she intercepted it with the tap of a finger, now seeing their screens. Li, dusted and pale, frightened atop her perch, and her father, dark haired and neat, with grey circles around his eyes to betray his lack of sleep over his missing daughter. They both spoke, their voices booming unnaturally loud, reverberating through the petrified city, but Daiyu silenced them both with a word, her eyes glittering. She could still see the spread of the city around her arm.

“Ah Tommy.” She thrummed, using the name he adopted for friends and foreign visitors “Here we are as promised. I said I would take her from you did I not? And now the cost will be double this time. That and your business. But don't worry. A second refusal won't cost you more in money, but it may lose you an heir.” Another smile. From here she could pick out that little rectangle where his flea sized daughter huddled. A step would be too much. “Nothing to say?” She added softly “Li. Show your father the Shanghai tower. He needs a lesson.”

Daiyu refused to acknowledge them any further, ignoring his stuttered pleads and curses, and the hurried whisperings of the daughter. Instead, her dark eyes found the twisted form of the Tower, only a few strides distant, meeting the frightened gaze of hundreds of terrified motes. She couldn't even see them. The knife twirled again. She'd always favoured a blade. She might insist it was the personal touch, or stealth, but in reality it was a calling card. Her rivals knew her. She was good. The best even. A little fear went a long way.

A shift caught her eye. Li was showing her father the tower. It was impressive. A tall spire of swirling glass and metal that looked almost liquid in shape. It was barely the thickness of her finger. His voice still gibbered and swore, fainter voices behind from aides or whatever woman he shared his bed with this time. Daiyu responded softly, her voice echoing through the room. A single word.

“Watch.” The blade, carefully balanced on her deft fingers, seemed to rise of its own volition, a flick of her wrist enough to send spiralling from her grasp. The world stood still while the immense knife spun and whirled, a deep thumping of air as it approached its target. A thousand people yelled in one clamour of fear and impotent rage, knowing in those seconds that they would be their last, and helpless to flee that simple mass of flattened metal.

The knife carved through the structure, the facade shattering at the first impact, showering glass and debris down over the city. But before they even arrived atop the fleeing masses the blade had sheathed right through the whole thing, tearing through floors and ripping apart walls to send droplets of powdered remains flowering out from the impact. The point hit the street just behind it, the thump alone enough to toss cars and people, while the spray of torn megastructure arched behind in a glimmering, deadly fall of glass and concrete. It slammed into surrounding buildings, bringing them down with it, dust surging out from the cavalcade of chaos caused by the simple toss of a knife.

The echoes hadn't had a chance to fade, the sparkling remnants pattering down over streets reduced to a sunken groove of rent earth,  while the blade settling like an angled monument to replace the tower. It was far more impressive. It's darkened handle still spilling evidence to the decimated streets. People still ran, dragging relatives free of the dust, those buried impossible to rescue from where they lay. The shattered skyscrapers their tomb now. And a famous one at that. For it was not a secret act. The whole world watched through a hundred screens showing a hundred shaking angles of the destruction.

A hum, the last settling vibrato of the blade, faded after the other sounds. And the city reflected in the knife through a dark gazed surface. Those nearby had simply been blasted apart by the shock, further away they were deafened, howling silent panic out at their minute compatriots. Daiyu still ignored the father's howl and the sobbing of Li, leaving them to their terrified discussion. When she moved, the mimicked roar burst over the speaker, crackling through and forcing her to flick the volume off. It wasn't like they were saying anything important anyway.

The lifting of her foot sent skyscrapers shattering, a casual clip of the rim of that black boot was more than enough to bring them collapsing down to defile her perfect print. The treads of her boot had replaced the stripes of roads and flattened vehicles into the new grooves. Debris was swept into the air, dragged along by the roaring slipstream. And while the sole moved ponderously overhead, its shadow raced along below, darkening the streets to announce the peppering of mangled city that dropped back down upon the populace.

Screams chased its passage. Daiyu never heard them, and would have done nothing different if she had. Instead bringing her foot across for a new cataclysmic step. Only then did the masked face turn downwards, her eyes on the thin threads of roads, the microscopic panic beneath her. It wavered, threatening new streets and promising the sparing of others, until she made her choice.

Thousands screamed and wept, fled or huddled, no matter their response their fate would be the same. Her simple step was to be their demise and their tomb in one. A wind whipped up beneath, displaced air kicking up dust and litter. Structures, so proud, a testament to all humanity could create, were swallowed by her shadow. First she stole their light. And then their lives. The upper floors spilling guts of concrete and steel to whirl in the raging winds. They were blinded by it. Screaming while her tread ground whole streets flat, crushed to little more than flecks of red and pulverised into the ground. The impact rocked the city, her leather clad foot surrounded by a ring of blasted dust. Cars and buses lifted and smashed into skyscrapers that survived her seismic tread. The ground sank and cracked. Asphalt splitting into chasms wide enough to swallow people and buildings, a cleft of dirt and stone rising around the incredible print. A city formed to her will.

And that was merely her first step.

Two more followed. Two more streaked paths of debris and miles of cleaved skyscrapers. Thousands buried amongst their own city, crushed like insects beneath this uncaring behemoth. Daiyu paused to chuckle at the scars she left behind, a murky cast marking where the dust still fell.

Well. They had asked for loud. It couldn't get much louder than this.

Daiyu hesitated, eyeing up the blade, and then the city. The unseen smile once more adorning her face, her breath hot in the confines of the mask.

“Are you still watching?” she crooned. Her tone mocking them. Mocking the world as it was fed these shaking images. The relatives left behind, outside. Helpless and impotent before the cool wrath of this woman. As if anyone had any choice but to watch. But most of all she mocked poor Tommy. People rarely refused her “offers” and after this.. they never would again.

Daiyu crouched, the scent of leather and fabric flowing through the streets, her black clad body their new night sky. For once she did not hide or use the darkness. She was the darkness, arching and magnificent. Terror incarnate. Li yelled at her. But the sound was still muted. She was ignorant to the full ponderous horror in this descent. Her heels lifted, revealing the crushed remnants of the city mired to this fine treads, homes broken and battered tumbling down that endless black cliff. Arms spread, her fingertips picked out new districts, plunging through floor by floor, twisting them to rubble. She was merely bracing to take her weight.

Miles lay in the spread of her shadow. Dogs howled and people sobbed. The rapture had come. Or whatever apocalypse people believed in. Li clutched her ears when Daiyu called her, her cold eyes reflecting the city rooftops, gleaming down at this speck of a prey that she couldn't see.

“Li?” she repeated, her voice booming, shattering windows and shaking people to their cores. “Tell your father to send the money. He knows where. If he values your life that highly that is. My employer will contact me when it's done. And if not.. or he delays too long...” Daiyu shifted, her fingers closing around the handle of that knife and dragging it back, smashing through roads and cutting a fresh circular valley to trap the girl. “Then you will perish like those under my boots today. And. Of course. For every minute he dallies… more will die for you.”

Li stammered but Daiyu cut them both off again, leaving them a few moments to see each other and choke out their pitiful “I love you’s” before shutting that down too, leaving both only with blank, dark screens to offer little comfort. The father of course.. could see her every move from his TV screen. He flailed and swore and dialed his missing daughter, cursing at the roving image on screen that cut them off this way. He watched, numb while the blade twisted into the heart of the city, gaped at the sight of windows and facades exploding against the relentless passage of it. Buildings packed with people. The blade turned, now scything through the earth to carve up a sector of city. The guilty and innocent alike, cleaved away from their mindless existence. Dozens of piled little buildings balanced upon that smooth blade, sifting and crumbling, while their inhabitants were jostled and crushed and splayed.

To them Daiyu was a moving mountain. Her gloved hand a towering edifice, the patterns deep ridges. They howled and prayed as she lifted the entire landscape miles into the air, giving them a taste of the city as she saw it. She smiled, then pulled down that dark mask to reveal it, the fabric hanging in a loose loop beneath her face. Her lips were an inescapable maw, parting to accept her first taste of this city. The tongue that stirred behind the pillars of white teeth rearing like a beast to claim them. Skyscrapers, cars and people alike, enveloped in a deadly embrace between metal and tongue, concrete crumpled and driven down, people screaming as they were pulverised by the mass and dragged along the length of the blade.

Survivors screeched, tossed and trapped amongst gritty taste buds, gasping in air that grew hotter and darker. Moisture coating their bodies. They had little flavour. Just a metallic powdery taint, lapped away from the blade and dissolved. Daiyu pulled up the mask, hiding a deed the world had seen. They all saw her lick the knife, saw her sweep away a thousand lives like nothing.. but there was no time to grieve. In the world outside, a father's shaking hands went back to the phone. Much longer and there would be little left of his daughter to save.

********

Li yelled at her phone. As though that could have any bearing on anything that happened. She staggered and stumbled and pleaded silently with the moving behemoth to stop the mindless slaughter, and howled in tune with the living waterfall of flailing forms that spilled from a careless tilt of the knife. She couldn't bare to watch them fall and yet she did anyway, flinching in resonance every time some struggling form struck a ravaged skyscraper and splattered it red, their remains spinning out of sight. If she closed her eyes she could still hear them screaming as one, and see the shadow of the body blocking the light.

“Please stop…” she begged weakly. But Daiyu could never her plaintive cry. The apocalypse was only just getting started.

“And now.” Her voice thundered from high above. Deep and confident, fierce and amused “Now we shall begin.”

********

Her fingers curled and folds in the black leather became a deepening, narrowing canyon, the simple cracks and patterns giving texture to the living landscape of her palm. The creak of the surface as it slid atop her hidden skin was a deep rumble that poured forth into the streets as surely as the debris would. But the denizens knew nothing of that yet. They soon would.

The black clad fingertips hovered over puny structures, casting all that terror with stripes of shadow as they descended to ruin the city and... paused. Only a breath above the highest rooftops they shifted and wavered, turning to bathe in the terror that rose like palpable heat from the strands of roads. The multi mile form looked thoughtful, then drew her hand away, whipping an updraught in her wake. If she was to spare them was anyone's guess. The motes prayed this cruel goddess had seen the fear and felt mercy for the lives that existed at her whim. For those that saw what she was doing however, they knew they wouldn't be so lucky.

Daiyu casually tugged on one sheathed finger, then the next, easing the black covering away from the skin beneath to reveal the softer, pale peach tone. The nails were rounded and functional, long elegant fingers that could effortlessly set that deadly knife afire with life. And now they flexed above the city. Her littlest finger putting the towering skyscrapers to shame. The faint, identifying ridges across her tips were mighty grooves marking the pattern of an impossible print.

Her eyes creased at the corners. They knew there was a smile behind that mask. The fleeting hope fluttered like a flame in the wind and flicked out to nothing. Most waited, still frozen in fear and disbelief, waiting to wake from this nightmare. There was to be no such mercy. Just that voice.

“I want to know how you feel” she muttered softly and the hand returned. This time there was no playful taunting, no time to ponder their fate. It smashed down and shook every tiny inhabitant from their feet. Proud buildings instantly reduced to cracked and pulverised dust, the people speckles of red buried amongst it into a crater hundreds of feet deep. Her fingers curled, tearing into the guts of the city, crushing subways and pipelines, concrete flaking up between her mighty digits. She churned their civilisation like it were little more than sand. Thousands and thousands decimated, a scar left that would be there until the end of the city. However soon that was.

Li too, was shaken from her perch, collapsing atop a roof that bore racing cracks as tantamount to the awesome shifting weight invading their lives. She lay flat while the dust plume blasted over her, staining her tears a grubby grey to mingle with streaked mascara. She tried to block out the sound, to cringe away from the shuddering grind of fingers against city. A mangling that would haunt her nights if she ever got out of this.

“Please..” she whimpered again, choking even as her face lay hidden. She just wanted it to stop.

Daiyu was ignorant of her broken mote, now basking in this power and the curious sensation of skyscrapers exploding beneath her lightest touch. Digits clawed and lifted, powdered city pouring back down into the crater she made, while she proudly displayed to the captivated millions what she had done to their delicate spires. Huge chunks of structures plunged through the gaps between them, smashing against the intact city and spreading the ruin still further, beyond the splay of her hand.

The dead mass was brought up to a scrutinising eye, sifted and jolted on the landscape of her palm. Half a skyscraper lay across it, partly buried with its windows shattered. Miraculously, survivors there huddled in lopsided rooms, gazing up fearfully into pitiless black eyes. They swept over them, unseeing or uncaring, carrying disdain for the stains that called themselves life. Was this it? A touch of a button and she owned them all? It hardly seemed worth it.

Her thumb came across, the nail scratching at the ravaged building, tearing with ease through the facade. The survivors howled as they were bathed in grit and sound, the construct shuddering in protest at her touch. She seemed to consider and then:

“I must say. You are probably the most pathetic thing I've ever had to deal with. It's almost comical.” She no longer seemed amused, but disgusted. As though it were the fault of these mites that there was no test or challenge for her skills. Her thumb came down. Piercing the walls, crumpling the building to dust amongst the rest on her palm.  A few dozen more for the tally. It was all they were worth.

The city rocked again. It wasn't clear why at first, but it was the slide of her weight that did it. That light tensing of hidden calf and brace of toes to bring her body once more to stand above their ranked skyscrapers. Discarded grit, the residue of constructs scattered over the folds in her attire, were sifted and poured back down, toppling and breaking as they plummeted to smash the streets at her feet. But her handful rose with her. The last invisible survivors stranded atop the ravaged mess on the broad desert of her palm. Had their city still been regular sized, they would already have been dead. Carried way above breathable atmosphere by the gigantic form. As it were, they were pressed against the rubble by the sheer acceleration, unable to move or breathe until her rise stopped, and they gazed up once more to her sky filling face.

The mask proved a blessing. It prevented them being buffeted and broken by her breath, but the power of her voice still stunned them and rippled the debris beneath.

“If any of you still live,” she murmured “Then I suggest you take one last look at your home. The view is spectacular from up here. You could call it a once in a lifetime opportunity to see it like this..”

She waited with the patience of one used to such moments of quiet, long enough to give any daring specks the time to claw their way to the edge of her palm and chance the view, or make their farewells. Either way. A city spread out below, bearing already the deep brown and blackened scars that crossed roads and skyscrapers, lazy prints of her body that erased all trace of life beneath. Smoke rose from fires and clouds of dust wafted by the air currents in the room.. mostly formed by the motions of their aggressor.

Daiyu turned her masked smile to the miniscule square where Li perched and chuckled softly at the thought of her watching all this.
“Daddy is taking a long time isn't he?” She remarked, lightly, and tipped her hand.

********

Li couldn't yell anymore. What escaped her throat was more of a soft, strangled groan. Her fingers made a cage of flesh and bone across her eyes. Yet the sheer horror captivated her and drew her eyes back to the streets. People were spots of moving colour, abandoning cars and buildings now and flooding towards her until they reached the massive valley left by the blade. Some scrambled across it like fleas, trying to find some way into the safer city in that circle. But for those further back there was no hope. Not even the giantess could save them from the spill of debris she made.

It fell as a plume, scattering out like a dirty brown cloudburst. This, however was no rain, but a heavy mass of grit and choking power, and great hunks of buildings shattered by her delicate fingers. They arrived like meteors, trailing debris and smashing into buildings, shockwaves ripping out to burst windows and add more glass and debris to the deadly downpour. The largest pieces span into entire structures, cleaving through their sides and exposing the skeletal core or sending them collapsing like dominoes atop the fleeing people. Grim deathly hell for them but for the perpetrator.. a fine smattering of dust. And no more.

The colossus had her head tipped downwards to watch this deluge, and once Li could tear her eyes away from the awesome spectacle below, she lifted her horrified face to meet that of the titan. For a moment they shared a look, one full of grim amusement and the other full of fear. She even forgot the sheer impossibility that the woman could even see her, forgot her speck like status atop this rooftop. That changed in an instant.

The immense foot moved, shifting forwards a relative inch. That was enough to plough down skyscrapers like grass, sending them tipping and cascading down atop others beyond the range of it. That first motion sent Li slamming into the ground for the hundredth time, gasping at the impact as she clawed her fingers into grooves and roof to prevent her slide. The roar of falling masonry made her ears ring, mercifully drowning the voices of the dying for a little while. From here, that leg was a towering living pillar of black leather, plunging through the city street by street. Trams and cars, homes, supermarkets, clubs and factories, all the trappings of humanity fell before her. The crunch of her boot all they had to offer in defiance. More choking dust and debris whirled, chasing her foot or whirling to allow its passage. Rooftops that could barely tickle those ankles swaying and crumbling at her touch. All beneath her was cast in darkness. It was a grim precursor to their fate.

Li screamed when Daiyu moved again, finding fresh reservoirs of terror to wail at the sight. Daiyu began to drag her foot across the city. The grinding sound pierced all other senses. A deep reverberating tremor that rose and fell in time with each building that folded and sank behind the rising earthbound clouds of chaff and dirt. People howled and clutched each other while the thunderous foot slid closer, eyes glassy, reflecting the rising wall of black that concealed a mountain of skin and muscle capable of propelling the foot towards them. Few had a chance to do anything but brace as darkness covered their windows and then their building slanted and capsized, bringing them all down for the sole to smear them back into the earth.

“Stop it!!” Li shrieked into the cacophony, her voice snatched away by the roar of destruction and dissolving into coughs as the blast of dry dust peppered her building. She was surprised then, that the woman did indeed cease. The dust swirling in the abrupt, echoing silence.

“Stop?” The voice dripped with scorn, yet again washing over the hapless city. “After so short a time together?”

How had she even heard her? Li had little time to marvel. Clearly this monster of a woman had more than just size on her side. Her attempts at reply were snatched by the hoarseness of her throat, and her hacking cough and unintelligible vocalisations were clearly not appreciated by the entity, for there was a bite of impatience in her response.

“Call your daddy again. Show him this. Tell him I grow bored of his delays. And this…” Her amusement was more than evident while her hand swept across the scenery “He has five minutes from the ending of that call to do EXACTLY as I asked. Or I will take it all. Your pretty little face included. Nothing personal of course.”

Li swallowed, and choked back her fear, spitting out the dust that had lined her throat. She pulled out her phone with a shaking hand, the screen was cracked, but showed briefly her dusted, ghostly face reflected against it, mocking the dainty princess who had started this night. If it was even still night out there. She flicked it on, thanking every saint and God it still worked, and jumping when it rang her before she could touch the screen.

“Daddy….” her voice cut short, the sudden jolt making her bite her tongue. She tasted blood and the phone skittered from her grasp. The boom of laughter shook her to her bones.

“Time's up.” It crooned. And on every TV set and news station around the globe, people shuddered at those words.

********

Now they all realised Daiyu had, in fact, been delicate with their city. All she had done, the decimation and destruction was merely the equivalent of dabbling her toes in the ocean to test the temperature. The next swoop of her foot was rapid. Skyscrapers burst apart, spraying atop her booted foot and kicked high into the air. The remains curved into a dull rainbow, arching miles into the air before smashing back down again. There were distant booms, some of the remains breaking apart on the surface beyond their confining wall. But there would be none to escape that way, the impact and acceleration had already sterilised the remains. Entire buildings crumbled like they were made of liquid, pouring down across her boot, thousands of survivors clinging and scrabbling as they lost their grip and fell. Then, slowly and deliberately, Daiyu found fresh streets and ground her booted foot back down atop them, a hidden smirk for the ugly wound and newly broken swathes of city.

“I very much doubt you can take much more of this,” she mused out loud, one hand reaching into the recesses of her clothing and drawing out three more dulled blades, fanning them out in her palm “but I'll leave you until last, Li. Keep your daddy watching. Savour your time together.” One blade was selected, brought up to a dark eye for inspection, then levelled atop her fingers. She tossed it, and flipped it, catching it by the blade while she considered the city beneath her.

“Ugly looking building isn't it Li?” Daiyu had fixed her gaze on the Oriental Pearl, the most iconic building in the city. She traced the edge of a blade thoughtfully. She angled it and flicked her wrist again, letting the metal fly. The knife struck with a tumultuous boom, the blade scything cleanly through the narrow span, the rest careering out in broken mangled remains across the still frothing water. The unique orbs were battered and sliced free, plunging through rows of traffic or spooling into the scar left from the first flung knife. The powdered concrete flowed in its wake, settling like a dirty grey snow on every ledge and surface. The Pearl was gone. In its place stood the knife, towering far higher than it ever had, a fresh momento for the city to remember her. “I never much liked it. I'd say this was an improvement, wouldn't you?”

The second knife was drawn free in a similar way to the first and balanced, point down atop her gloved finger. The hilt made it pitch and waver, her hand sweeping from one side to the other as she fought to keep it upright. It wobbled to one side, and she swung it back, keeping it balanced in a precarious position. A dangerous game for those below her.

There was little warning for her next target. Daiyu didn't tease or taunt, instead selecting it on impulse. A luxury riverboat, still lit with red and gold lanterns from a party or some such the night before. One that had somehow survived the attack of the drink and all else till now. The blade was so immense that it smashed it apart, slicing whatever remains of hull resisted and pinning it to the bank below. Water crested around the blade, rose in a frothing wall that angered the mingled champagne, the froth reforming as waters rushed into close the gap around it. Then, that too stood insolently above the city, a mighty tombstone for a ship of innocents unlucky enough to be caught in all this foul play.

“Perhaps the last should be for you, Li. But I promised an intimate death. As much as I can promise that, my microscopic little friend.” For the first time in all this, Daiyu lowered her hood, revealing a silky skein of jet black hair, ruffled from its confinement under fabric for so long. She pulled it free, letting it hang loose, and surveyed her city, taking in the crushed and mangled sectors, the gutted buildings, and boot prints a mile long. Her blade traced an invisible line in the air, as though sighting from structure to structure, selecting a place for that to fall. But there was no target that caught her interest, and so she let it fall carelessly, not even throwing, but letting it clatter down at her feet. The end for a cluster of smaller, intact apartments.

Their demise was barely noted by the giantess, no more than another thunderous crash as they collapsed, unheeded behind her beneath the weight of gleaming metal. The roar of it shook the city again. If it ever stopping rocking. Buildings shuddered and fell from the impact. And beneath, all was obliterated by the blade. Not even bodies survived. They were pulped and vaporized, mingled into the ground and stone. Not enough of them left to bury.

Then the true dance of death began. Quakes rocked them anew, the city ripped by her slightest, effortless motion. Her body commanding their lives. A wall of black fabric and leather descended, covering her people and darkening the clusters of buildings. Her knees and palms struck like bombs as she sank down on all fours. The weight was irresistible, ploughing out great furrows and pounding the city beneath those points. Structures shuddered and caved, people screamed as they were lifted and smashed aside by the simple shock, their howls lost in the throbbing chuckle above. Daiyu never thought she would, but she delighted in it. The way the ground sunk and curved beneath her, and all those delicate towers crumbled to dust at her touch.

Her hands slid forwards, one gloved, one bare, creeping street by street across Shanghai. Where her finger tips curled, buildings fell, the speck sized civilisation scurrying and wailing, staggering on the rocking ground or vanishing beneath cracks. Dust swallowed them, stealing sight, yet they could still hear and feel the shuddering advance of her sweeping palms. What chance did they have to outrun her? She could edit their world with a twitch, capsize the very ground they scurried across, or flick a skyscraper to rubble. She owned them. And not one person doubted it.

Li had given up pleading, but still sobbed, her face wearing a haunted look as the woman plunged her hands into the city, arching them around her in the mockery of an embrace, encompassing city and victim in her arms. Her body sank down, and full darkness flooded the city beneath that black clad body. The fabric numbing her to the sensation, yet she could still feel a thousand skyscrapers crumble beneath the magnificence of her body, vaguely tickling those hidden breasts and stomach and the expanse of her thighs and sprawled limbs. Grit powdered her body, settling in the folds and creases of her clothes, dusting zips and buckles and puffing at her lightest motion. Her hair, draped like a silken curtain down her back, swung forwards, and long dark locks spread their own entangled chaos. They curled over skyscrapers and filled roads,sweeping aside cars and making an impassable mass of strands to trap them.

A lazy shift, getting herself comfortable, acting as though she had no idea that that motion had shaken yet more of the city to dust, widening the cracks and splitting the ground. It heaved, rose into jagged mountains ranging her body, split and riven from the city itself, towering over buildings. Yet they didn't even challenge her prone body for mastery of the skyline.

“Ah Li. Just us now. Well. There are the others but they are inconsequential for now. Shame daddy didn't decide to save you from all this.” Her hand rose from the wreckage, fingers spilling a stream of dirt and dust back down into the doomed populace. Her fingers curled bar her index, the very tip moving over the sky to lightly rest atop a chosen rooftop. Li was forced to watch through blurred vision. She could see shadowy figures at the windows, beating at the glass or huddling, then flung to one side when Daiyu made their structure sway. Little plumes rolled down the sides, the whole thing grinding and crumbling beneath her attack. If you could call it an attack. And far above, her face, faded with distance, looking alien covered by that mask. Her eyes were clearly showing cold amusement, squinting down at the structures and people helpless under her.

If Li was yelling, Daiyu could no longer hear it, such was her focus on this single, pathetic little excuse for a building. If she wasn't watching, it would be a pity, but she'd never escape the other senses. They would intrude no matter what she did to keep them out, battering down her mental walls as surely as Daiyu would batter the city.

The roof started to curve around her fingertip, the building creaking in feeble protest. Years of engineering and architecture bowing beneath the digit. When it gave, it was with a sudden crashing, windows and floors spurting from the doomed structure as her inexorable finger drove downwards. People screamed before they were crushed amongst tonnes of debris. All of it leaving a minuscule stain on her finger.

Before she touched the ground, Daiyu gave another hidden grin and curled the digit, ripping it sideways through the skyscraper and sending it in its entirety avalanching down over the streets. Her finger followed, chasing down the minute specks fleeing her. She was struck then by the sheer insignificance of these people. They were too small to distinguish features or limbs, just spots of moving colour.. and when she moved to touch one, she felt nothing, but left a streak of red. Though they fled before her grinding finger, she mowed them down, leaving the roads behind cracked and buckled and dotted with minute stains.

Her finger drew away, lifted so her thumb could dabble in the miniscule stain of red and grey atop it. It wasn't much to show for the deaths of thousands. Her eyes found Li again, her cries suddenly coming into sharper focus. Broken, horrified, unintelligible pleading that became all the more frantic when her hand swung above her perch, and began to descend.

“Your turn, Princess.” she chuckled.

********

A sound lashed through all other sounds, a lighthearted tinkling chime at odds to all the terror below. Daiyu froze with her hand still outstretched, the lilliputian Li huddled in the darkness beneath her, waiting for the inevitable end. The hand moved aside and light flooded back over her rooftop and spilled once again into the teeming streets. Wails turned to soft sobs as Daiyu moved away, sitting back on her haunches and lifting a colossal phone to her ear. They couldn't hear what was said, but her eyes showed triumph. She nodded curtly and responded simply.

“Just in time.” She smirked before cutting the call and tossing the phone carelessly across the room. The sound of it shattering echoing in the space.

“It seems your Daddy does want you after all, Princess. Amazing what it took to motivate him. Now.” Her fingers delved into her pocket, producing a thin sheet of clear glass that was delicately rested against the roof for the minute fleck of life to clamber atop. The fingers that had so cruelly ravaged and tormented, now moving delicately to extract that tiny, solitary figure from the doomed city. A cap was clipped atop the glass, securing the passenger from buffeting winds while Daiyu rose and her careless boots cleaved their way to the edge of the city and out of sight. She always fulfilled on a deal. He'd get his daughter back, dusted and traumatised, but alive.

The remnants of Shanghai were left in the ringing silence of her absence. For once the ground was still. The dust sparkled as it settled and huddled people dared to crawl free into the light to gape in horror at the devastation she had left behind. Few dared to hope, yet it crept in like a disease. The streets filled with the murmur of rumour. She had what she wanted.. surely now the rest would be spared? The silence of waiting was almost worse than her presence. And without the shift of day and night, the passing of time was all the more endless. They were exhausted, but terrified to sleep, famished with thirst and hunger, yet none had appetite. Some tried to comfort each other. Families huddled in the endless day. Waiting.

It was hours before she returned, announcing herself with those thunderous steps. Her attire had changed. No longer the functional black. But loose, cotton coverings. Her body was clearly outlined by the light behind her. Toes, bare now, wriggled on the far side of their wall. Her lips, unmasked at last, were curved into a feral smile. She brushed a lock of black hair from her face and greeted a city forced to bathe in this new aspect of her. Even the most optimistic knew what this change meant for them.

“Now, now,” she chuckled as faint screams rose from the awestruck populace “Business is business. It's unfortunate but true. And my business is concluded.” She paused, allowing the fleeting hope to flitter through the gathered specks all over again. Daiyu beamed down at them, almost affectionately, and lifted a bare sole to the edge of their dividing wall, taunting them with digits larger than buildings. “But this isn't business now, is it. This, is for pleasure.” Her foot swung over the wall, the city darkened and crunched once more and the specks fled and pleaded as their owner stepped into their world.

This was their new existence now.
DA version since not all seem able to download. Fix please DA

A thief shrinks and steals Shanghai. Yes that's probably some kind of pun
Published:
© 2018 - 2021 a-p-h-r-o-d-i-t-e
Comments14
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So, the sexiest thing in this is obviously the implied Nokia 3510i. That should go without saying.

But that aside...

Hngggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

Very, very nicely done. All those flourishes and glorious little unexpected details in there that are indeed your own calling card (damn you for being the first person I've ever seen pick up on the effects of weight distribution without actual movement, and consider yourself un-nixed, as it were), and they flow as smooth as rustling silk.

Absolutely 0 issues with pacing or sections that gave a trace of a desire to complete. That was your only real Achilles' heel in a couple of other stories, but evidently you've given that the nick!

Now you're good. The best even.

So, yeah, anonymous, corroborating praise from Springer42 well justified. Be proud... Princess ;-)
Ferdinandbestboi's avatar
Damn that's a cruel ending.

Great story.
This is amazing, as always.

Without any offence to the other great writers in the community I think you're easily the best. The use of language is far better than it needs to be, phrases like "Screams chased its passage" or "The remains curved into a dull rainbow" are just amazing.

And I don't even really like the detached, business-like giantess trope.
a-p-h-r-o-d-i-t-e's avatar
Well I can only say a huge thanks for the praise. Glad you enjoyed it :)
Wow! This is outstanding! A must read. Beautifully written, it covers so many of the things I like in giantess. I wanted to write so much more on this comment but thought if I did it would be a spoiler. As I said, a must read........
a-p-h-r-o-d-i-t-e's avatar
I'm not going to complain if you wanted to critique me. There's always PM :)

But thank you
Thanks :)

I was going to talk about the parts of the story I particularly liked but it would give the story away :)
BootsTheTiny's avatar
Your stories are always incredible 
a-p-h-r-o-d-i-t-e's avatar
I can only say thanks :) glad you enjoyed it
sgrildrig's avatar
Stylish!  I especially liked the images with the drinking glass and the first knife...  ^^  
a-p-h-r-o-d-i-t-e's avatar
I like knives. Can't help it ^^
sgrildrig's avatar
www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpP-6f…
(everybody needs a talking switchblade)
a-p-h-r-o-d-i-t-e's avatar
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