Apr 14th, 2019
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  1. It starts on a quiet night on the streets of Iron City. You’ve managed to find another rare evening with Alita, and the two of you drift through the night market, watching as the people sell their trinkets and stories in the stalls about. Her attention is caught by a sparkling firestick; she rushes over with you hand-in-hand, her hair swaying from the excited steps. You keep a smile to yourself as you see her focus intently on the vendor’s sales pitch. Between her Motorball winnings and your work there’s plenty of money for the joy these little things provide. The bustle of the market is a soothing background with the balmy air, and you stare over the crowd as the people therein find the same wonder as the pair of you. In this cursory glance, something catches you from the corner of your eye. A slender arm, glinting in the scattered market light. A wave, and then movement as a girl makes her way towards you. Her light summer dress flows as she seems to almost glide through the people around her. You squint, trying to make out the detail in her face before realisation hits you, and your smile spreads wide across your face. Mira steps up on to the footpath with you and grabs you in a hug. It’s been years since you’ve felt her near you, and the memories come flooding back. Motorball in the rough alleys of the city. Stealing scraps from the farm-dumps out by the edge of the walls. And holes and hideaways that your friends found and shared. Her voice is silky-smooth when she speaks.
  3. “It’s been so long!”
  5. “I know! Like five years at least.” You pause for a moment and notice that Alita has turned back to you; firestick in hand. Her face is flat, betraying no more than passing interest in the girl before you. You take the moment to give introductions.
  7. “Ali, this is Mira. We were friends as kids.” You gesture between the two of them. “Mira, Alita.”
  9. Mira reaches out with her cybernetic hand to shake Alita’s, and you see for the first time the intricacies of the metal design. It’s high-quality work; far more so than most people get in Iron City. The shake is punctuated by a terse “Hi” from Alita. Despite the bustle and noise around you, and an uncomfortable silence settles across the three of you. Alita stares at Mira, who glances down for a moment before she speaks.
  11. “Well, I should get going. I’d love to see you again some time though! How about next week?” The comment is made for you, and with an enthusiastic nod the two of you exchange communicator details. With a quick hug goodbye she fades back in to the crowd, gliding through them as before. You turn back to Alita and find her intently focusing on the firestick. You laugh under your breath and grab her in a casual hug. She twists away a little and does her best to sulk away from you.
  13. “You don’t like her, do you?” Your words are more curious than accusatory. She mumbles under her breath before coming back to meet your hug.
  15. “It’s nothing. I just wish you’d tell me more about your past!”
  17. “Sure, I’ll tell you how I met her if you want.”
  19. She nods in agreement, and as the two of your walk back to your apartment hand-in-hand, you weave a tapestry of threads from your previous life. Perhaps it’s forgivable that you don’t notice the burning in her eyes, or that her free hand is balled in a tight fist. It would have saved you an awful lot of trouble.
  21. -/-/-
  23. It continues on the second day of the following week. Alita sits hidden on a rooftop, overlooking the street where her partner walks next to that girl. Mira. She looks as disgustingly pretty as the last time Alita saw her. A spike of loathing runs though Alita as Mira laughs and gently touches the arm of her love. Though her partner may be clueless to it, the jealousy and fury rises in Alita unbidden. A small part of her knows she should stop; leave the two of them to meet as old friends. But it is overridden by her desire to know their secrets. To keep her love safe. So, she carefully follows along as they walk, catching little snippets of conversation here and there.
  25. They reach a corner, pausing for a moment as the Iron City traffic makes a barrier to their progress. Alita knows that she could hop down from the rooftop right now and push Mira away. Make her fear ever being with her love again. The Damascus blade is sheathed in plasma as she subconsciously prepares for the fight; the bloodlust surges through her as her artificial muscles tighten, a tension begging for release. Yet a second before she leaps she hears a name stand out in Mira’s words. Alita pauses, releasing the energy she’s built up. The name seems familiar, and after a quick check of the bounty lists her eyes widen slightly. An icy grin appears on her face as she realises what must be done. She knows how to keep her love safe from this demon.
  27. -/-/-
  29. It ends but a few days after it began. There’s a slight drizzle out when you meet Mira for the third time. The evening is summery despite the rain, and the two of you share a box of candied nuts as you walk through the alleys and streets around you. Though you offered to pay for the treat, she insists on covering it. It's a quirk of hers, it seems. The conversation drifts from your shared history to speculation on the world around you but eventually it lands back where it always seems to: Alita.
  31. “She’s been acting a little strange lately.” You sigh and kick at a loose cobblestone before you. “I wish I didn’t have to work so early. It feels like I never get to see her.”
  33. Mira nods sympathetically and takes your hand. The edge of worry keeps you from noticing the strength with which she holds it, and the way she bats her eyelids when she responds.
  35. “Maybe you just need a break. I know a place you can work if you want some space. It’s with my father. He’s good with data stuff- you said you liked that?”
  37. You frown, trying to process what Mira says. Was that what you said? Needing a break? The questions blur together but before you can make sense of them you hear a thump from behind you, and you immediately recognise the sound Alita’s nanomachine body humming in the rain. You shake your hand free from Mira’s and the two of you turn to see Alita standing a few steps in to the alleyway. Your eyes widen as you take in the scene before you. Her face is covered in blood- cyborg blue and fleshy red mingle with streaks of dirt and rain. Her hunter’s polymer is savagely torn, with three claw-mark scars across her stomach being slowly filled by the Berseker's nanomachines. The Damascus blade itself is slick with the blue-red fluids; a watercolour painting in the drizzle before you. In her other hand is a hunter's duffel bag. You feel your stomach sink as you realise what it must contain. When she looks at you, her eyes are full of fire and lust.
  39. “Hi- ah, Ali. You ok?” Your voice is unsteady.
  41. “Of course. I’m just keeping you safe. From her.” What love she had in her words for you withers as she looks over to Mira. Alita’s face is icy, and she throws the bag down as she steps towards the girl with you. You catch a glimpse of a cybernetic eye from the bag as it drops, and your fears crystalize in to a terrible clarity. Mira lets out a choked cry and then cringes when Alita grabs her shirt. Mira attempts to speak but Alita hits her, hard. She throws Mira to the ground where she lands roughly, limbs splayed askew. Alita’s voice is pure disdain as she stares down at the girl below.
  43. “Your father had a bounty on him, but I’m sure you know that. You tried to take my love from me. You wanted him under your spell.”
  45. You stand frozen as the words land on your ears. Pieces start to click together. The quality of her cybernetic arm. The seemingly endless credits. Nausea rises in you, and you can only watch as Alita continues her speech.
  47. “It’s time for you to apologise. Say you’re sorry. For trying to lead my love astray.” Fear mixes with confusion on Mira’s face and she struggles to sit up. Lightning-fast the Damascus blade appears at her throat and Alita screams at her, flecks of spittle betraying the loss of her composure.
  49. “SAY IT.”
  51. Mira stumbles through an apology as her tears blur in to rain-made streaks. Her last words slowly die and Alita stares for a moment, her face a twisted scowl. Finally, she moves the blade, and with an empty voice dismisses Mira.
  53. “Go. Do not come back.” Mira clumsily rises and runs off down the alley, sobs echoing off the harsh walls. Alita turns to you now, and you see that mix of love and obsession; of violence and danger. You find yourself locked in place as she steps over to you. She runs her finger up your chest and takes your chin, her hand steady as iron. She kisses you, long and full of forceful desperation. You taste heat and blood. Your emotions roil and turn as you try to comprehend what you’ve just seen; you're at the edge of a cliff, with the promise of a storm crashing below. Then she breaks apart from you and stares deep in to your eyes. You struggle to match their zealous intensity. When she speaks, her voice is soft, though you feel the edge of a splintered instability just below the surface.
  55. “I would do anything for you. If I had to kill every single person in Iron City to keep you safe, I would. Nothing will push us apart. Nothing.” Suddenly she cringes a little as she touches her face. “Oh god- I’m sorry about the blood!”
  57. You see her there, bloodstained and proud in the drizzling rain, and you grab her in a hug. The fear you feel releases, and as you take her for another long kiss, you step off the cliff.
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