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Mirror: Chapter 3

CutOut Mar 31st, 2019 (edited) 91 Never
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  1. Alita often climbed to the roof of the clinic to practice her Panzer Kunst.
  2.  
  3. The purpose of her technical forms, also called the practice forms, was to familiarize the beginner with the foundations of motion and inertia, reinforce understanding with the intermediate practitioner, and promote strong mind-body sync with the advanced student. Every time they are first and last in a study, and they are repeated until done correctly.
  4.  
  5. This was the fifth time she had to start over on the opening form.
  6.  
  7. Ever since she had fought and killed Grewishka, her knowledge on Panzer Kunst began to unlock. It was like someone smeared a broad red brush stroke over her mind. Sometimes, even with a simple activity like walking, she noticed her using underlying techniques. It permeated everything.
  8.  
  9. Sixth repetition.
  10.  
  11. "Get a form right, you live. Get a form wrong, and everyone you know dies."
  12.  
  13. Her instructor, Gelda, often repeated this. Flawless execution was an absolute requirement.
  14.  
  15. The issue was, a broader and darker brush stroke overlapped the first.
  16.  
  17. If I had grabbed his upper arm instead--seventh--If I had tucked tighter into my dive and angled straight to him--eighth--If I hadn’t stopped to bargain with him, hugged and dragged him down--ninth.
  18.  
  19. She froze mid-form. If she didn’t hold her breath, she would scream.
  20.  
  21. “You’re really dedicated.”
  22.  
  23. Trapped air screeched out in a terrified yelp. Another yelp followed hers, along with loose leaves of paper tossed in surprise.
  24. “Ah, sorry! I didn’t mean to frighten you! Ido suggested I come up and talk to you!”
  25.  
  26. Alita stared blankly at Adem as he knelt down and collected his sketches, crawling to snatch them up before the breeze carried them off the roof.
  27.  
  28. “Ha! Gotcha!” he declared, snatching the last sheet before it blew away.
  29.  
  30. “You’re drawing me?”
  31.  
  32. She got a good look at each one. He demonstrated talent, and it was clear they were all her, each one during a different phase of her form.
  33.  
  34. “Ah, right, yeah. Studying, actually,” he said sheepishly.
  35.  
  36. "Why?"
  37.  
  38. Adem grinned, his voice spilling, “Okay, so, mind-body synchronicity--”
  39.  
  40. “--Is the cyber core's model of the individual’s nervous system. Higher scores indicate better control and identity-acceptance of the cyborg and their cybernetic parts,” Alita rattled off.
  41.  
  42. Adem’s shoulders slumped, she stole his thunder.
  43.  
  44. “Ido is my father, after all. But why draw me?”
  45.  
  46. “I’m not drawing you, per se, more like recording your moves.”
  47.  
  48. “The Panzer Kunst technical forms?”
  49.  
  50. “Is that what they’re called?” he muttered, kneeling down and jotting down a few notes in the corner of one of the drawings.
  51. Alita rolled her eyes, “That’s what you’re doing, not why.”
  52.  
  53. “Oh, right. Well, I had an idea. Your mind-body sync is high, right? It’s because you practice your Punter’s Course--”
  54.  
  55. “--Panzer Kunst--”
  56.  
  57. “Oh, right, Panzer Kunst,” Adem interrupted himself, long enough to kneel down and correct his notes. Alita struggled not to hurry him up, fearing he’d get side-tracked again, “There. What I’m saying is you have a high score, and it’s because you practice. So, I was studying your forms so I could learn a few exercises and derive a kind of physical therapy.”
  58.  
  59. “No.”
  60.  
  61. “Excuse me?” Adem blinked.
  62.  
  63. “I said no. Don’t study my Panzer Kunst or teach it to others. Stop drawing me,” she held out her hand expectantly for the sketches. Adem’s jaw slacked as he looked at her hand to his drawings.
  64.  
  65. “But this could help a lot of people. There’s a lot of cyborgs out there who suffer every day because of low sync scores--”
  66.  
  67. “It’ll cause problems. Panzer Kunst isn’t some stretching routine, soldiers invented it to be better killers.”
  68.  
  69. She continued to hold out her hand for the drawings.
  70.  
  71. “Do you want your sister to be a killer?”
  72.  
  73. Adem’s jaw snapped shut, clenching down. He closed his eyes a second before opening them, by then she had dropped her hand.
  74.  
  75. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say it like that. I'm truly sorry, but I can’t let you teach Panzer Kunst to others. The horrors of it outweigh the good.”
  76.  
  77. “I understand,” Adem whispered. A moment later he collected a rock to weigh his art down under it, “I won’t take what isn’t mine.”
  78. When he passed through the roof access door, he gently closed it.
  79.  
  80. Tenth repetition.
  81.  
  82. Eleventh.
  83.  
  84. Twelfth…
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