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Mirror: Chapter 7

CutOut Mar 31st, 2019 (edited) 89 Never
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  1. “Racers! On your marks in twenty minutes!”
  2.  
  3. “Good luck, Alita!” Ido called out from the stands. He was waiting by the racer lockers and waving over the glass. Although she was still in the beginner's bracket, as a formality because she scrambled her first match, Ido had taken the time to see each of her games.
  4.  
  5. She gave a weak smile and wave, then noticed Adem and Sarah with him.
  6.  
  7. Sarah was hyperactive, waving and hopping on her cybernetic legs. She adapted quickly to them, and that made Alita’s smile brighter.
  8. Someone was going to make it in Iron City. For once.
  9.  
  10. Adem wasn’t smiling, and he barely noticed Alita at all. He was paying attention to Sarah, with a concerned look on his face, studying her and her legs to make sure they integrated.
  11.  
  12. He’s a dork, Alita admitted, but he’s one of the good ones. Took me a while to realize that.
  13.  
  14. After gliding up to the starting line, Alita scanned the faces of the other racers. Assorted cybertrash, no one interesting. None of them even matched her gaze, they looked down, knowing that she’d simply coast into first place and there wasn’t anything they could do about it. Some idolized her.
  15.  
  16. I’m sorry for making you lose, she thought, but blame the commission for revoking my points.
  17.  
  18. “Alita?”
  19.  
  20. “Dad? What is it?” she answered over her built-in receiver.
  21.  
  22. “We have to go sweetheart. There’s an emergency.”
  23.  
  24. “What happened?”
  25.  
  26. “Sarah passed out. Cybernetic rejection. We’ll be back soon.”
  27.  
  28. That was the last time she saw Adem's face.
  29.  
  30. ---
  31.  
  32. “Racers! On your marks in twenty minutes!”
  33.  
  34. The mirrored racer’s head rose up from staring at the floor. It took him a moment to shake off his memory, and he realized his left arm still wasn’t reattached.
  35.  
  36. Smooth hands slid it back into the shoulder joint and locked it in place. Once the assemblage lifted him, his fingers danced over the control pad, professional and crisp. Contrasting his hand’s professionalism was his strained grunting from his shoulder being welded on.
  37.  
  38. It hurt, but it was the only way.
  39.  
  40. He reminded himself no matter how much it hurt, it would never be as bad as the night he became a total-replacement cyborg.
  41.  
  42. Once the assemblage dropped him, he teetered, catching himself one instant before hitting the ground. A moment later he hooked a small handheld console up to his cyber core, via a cable.
  43.  
  44. Synchronicity 23%.
  45.  
  46. Below 25% and he ran the risk of medical complications, body dysphoria, and cybernetic rejection. Below 20% and the commission would disqualify him from racing until he got his sync score back up.
  47.  
  48. “So that’s that, then,” he muttered in disgust, yanking the cord out and tossing the console aside.
  49.  
  50. How many races do I have left? Two? Three at most, if I'm lucky? No, this is definitely the last one.
  51.  
  52. “I still don’t understand why you don’t turn off the pain sensors. You look like a total masochist, though it suits you.”
  53.  
  54. He stood tall again but didn’t turn to address the voluptuous redhead that strolled into his pit. Metal high heels clicked as she sauntered in, built into her feet. She, too, was a total replacement cyborg, and her parts whirred like a purring kitten and her latex suit rustled like the sighing of sex.
  55.  
  56. “Oh, come now," she coaxed, "Don’t be like that. Tell me why, again.”
  57.  
  58. “You know why. If I turn it off, my synchronicity plummets. If it plummets, I can’t race, and then I can’t give you credits. Pretty simple, even for a bimbo.”
  59.  
  60. “Well if you had fucking thought about that in the first place,” she screeched, snatching up a ratcheting tool and hurling it at him, “We wouldn’t both be freaks of nature!”
  61.  
  62. He made no move to defend himself from the abuse. The tool slammed into his head hard enough to tilt it back, and a spiderweb crack formed over the mirrored surface of his mask.
  63.  
  64. “What do you want?” he said flatly, “Winnings are only given at the end of the race. Come get them then.”
  65.  
  66. A moment passed before she took a breath, smoothed out her hair, and plastered a fake smile across her face. She stepped up to him, grabbing his shoulders, forcing him to look at her. She gazed at her shattered reflection and applied blood red lipstick to her mouth.
  67.  
  68. As she preened, she smirked, and asked, “How’s it feel knowing you’ll never touch a girl? No one’s going to want a chunk of dickless metal.”
  69.  
  70. “That puts us in the same boat, huh?”
  71.  
  72. She snarled a moment before smiling again. After wiping the corner of her mouth she kicked him, sending him crashing into his assemblage. Her parts were much higher quality and, as such, she was much stronger. Tools and spare parts scattered.
  73.  
  74. “I can’t stand the sight of you. You're ugly, completely ugly. The only reason I came here is to tell you Arez wants more money, so get first place."
  75.  
  76. “He’s using you,” he grunted, holding his stomach.
  77.  
  78. “Then he's using you, too. At least someone will so feel useful. Besides, you, of all people, don’t have a right to judge me.”
  79. “Alita is in this race. The absolute best I’m getting is second.”
  80.  
  81. “I don’t fucking care about her,” she roared, her jealousy exploding out, “Get the money! Do it, or I’ll splatter your brains myself, Adem!”
  82.  
  83. “Sarah.”
  84.  
  85. High heels made angry clicks as she stomped away.
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