- There’s few things Alita enjoys as much as sneaking up on people. With only a little practice she has learned to soften her footfalls; even when moving through the mayhem and clutter of Scrapheap only the faintest of rustles can be heard. However, it was the discovery of her ability to hold her breath which solidified her practice of sneaking around. She could sit for minutes at a time; solid as a stone statue but for the occasional blink. Ido once told her that she must have been part cat in a prior life, though he was still recovering from one of her better scares at the time that comment was made.
- Right now though, she’s on a mission. It began after the day’s scrimmage. In the sticky heat of the summer sun, Dayal had shared a tantalizing secret with the rest of the group. Through some kind of connection, he had managed to find a supplier of ice cream. This mythical foodstuff was said to be the greatest delicacy available to the Zalemites; the production wings of the Factory where it’s produced are heavily controlled. Though the group begged him for details, he merely left them with a smirk as he left the scrimmage arena. Though Alita had been curious at the mention of it before, his attitude made her plans certain.
- After a trip home, with a hurried hello for Ido and a change in to the layered fabrics of her stealthy outfit (which was really just a mish-mash of whatever dark clothes she could find, though she made sure to have a hood to hide her most distinctive feature), she had set out on her mission. It hadn’t taken long to find him; there were only so many places one could smuggle goods through the city. Alita’s track record of bounties left her familiar with most.
- Now Alita stands pressed flat against the shadowed walls of the smugglers’ alley, waiting for Dayal to emerge from the rusted door where the prize no doubt waits. She breathes deep and heavy, ready to hold it at the first sign of his presence. The plan is crystal clear in her mind. She silently thanks the Berserker body’s immunity to itches and cramps and feels her breath click in to place as footsteps echo from behind the door.
- Dayal pokes his head out, cautious and reserved. Alita suppresses a frown at the unusually serious face. Ice cream must really be important to cause someone like him to stop joking about. Eventually he seems satisfied with the clarity of the path before him, and Alita sees in his arms three plas-lock containers, stacked on top of each other. It takes him both hands to hold them all; the door slides back in to place with a grinding squeal after Dayal awkwardly presses his keycard against the access port. Though her heart would normally be racing at the prospect of a new food to try, Alita’s training overrides her excitement as he approaches the alleyway where she lies in wait. The narrow strip of light in the middle of the alley, cast down from the buildings above provides a path for Dayal to follow. His attempts at hurrying are hampered by the size of the containers, and he curses as one of them shifts awkwardly in his grip. Alita feels the edges of a smile play around her lips as the thrill of the hunt sets in. She counts down the steps before it’s her time to strike.
- Then, like liquid lightning she launches off the ground below; tucking her body in to a practiced half-rotation so as to snatch the top container from a shocked Dayal. Her arc through the air is perfect, and she finds the wall of the alley opposite rapidly approaching. The container is heavy, yet it is only a mite when compared to the power of billions of nanomachines making up her body. Dayal’s outraged exclamation is far behind her now as she pushes off the wall, gaining both height and speed. It takes only a couple more wall jumps before she finds herself on the parapet of the building parallel to her hiding spot. He’ll never catch her on her flight across the rooftops; she whoops and laughs as the freedom of running across Iron City spreads through her heart. It’s a special way to get around; no one can touch her up here, where the stars themselves seems to play around her.
- It takes her only a few minutes to get to the church which she knows has the best view in the entire city. Her face is flushed with excitement from the acquisition, and she now feels her heart pounding as she cracks the seal on the plas-locked goods before her. With a small hiss the lid retracts and she sees the beautifully smooth, pink surface of what must be ice cream. Little wisps of vapor rise off it, bringing the faint sweetness of berries. It’s only now that she realises that she doesn’t have the faintest idea how to eat this mythical food. A small frown furrows her brow, before she resolutely places a finger on the surface of the ice cream. The cold on her fingertip is like fire over her artificial nerves, but she finds that there is some give in the surface. The smile returns as she realises what she can do. Carefully she scrapes her finger in a line down the frozen dessert, marveling at the smooth wave formed under her mechanical digit. With a triumphant pinch she picks up the scraping and pops it in her mouth.
- Alita feels the cool texture of the ice cream swirl around as the sweet strawberry flavour trickles over her tastebuds. Her eyes drift closed and she lets out an involuntary moan at the unique sensation. This is far better than normal strawberries. All too soon the fluffy cream melts in to liquid and she finds herself swallowing and desperately scraping up more of the dessert. The decadence is almost overwhelming and as her mouth gets colder and colder she feels a spike of pain suddenly shoots though her brain. It’s as if ice has burned through the roof of her mouth and she spits out the dessert in a panic. She reels and cradles her head as she tries to find an answer to the clear brain trauma. Her training provides nothing; just as she’s ready to cry out the pain suddenly subsides. Alita shakes her head in confusion and eyes the box of ice cream with suspicion. Perhaps Ido would have answers for why the Zalemites enjoyed such dangerous food. At the very least, she thinks as she re-seals the container, he can tell her what caused her brain problems.
- Even with the mysterious assault on her senses, Alita can’t help but smile as she makes her way home. Exploring the world around her always brings a special kind of pleasure, and she knows that the look on Koyomi’s face will be priceless when she shares the story with her friend tomorrow.
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