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Mirror: Chapter 6

CutOut Mar 31st, 2019 (edited) 160 Never
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  1. “Welcome back, kid. I decided to give you another chance. After all wasted talent is a tragedy and what's one or two temper tantrums?”
  2.  
  3. Alita ignored his empty posturing. Her coach “quit” every week.
  4.  
  5. “Did you get the vid of last night’s game?” she asked.
  6.  
  7. “Yeah, about that kid. There’s something you need to see.”
  8.  
  9. Coach pointed a remote at the vid panel, and it lit up.
  10.  
  11. “I asked for last night’s game, I want to know how he blocked my sword--”
  12.  
  13. “Yeah, kid, I got that figured out already. But this you need to see.”
  14.  
  15. “What? Why?”
  16.  
  17. “I want your opinion as a martial artist on his moves since you’re the best I know. You tell me if what you see is impossible or not.”
  18.  
  19. Alita shot Coach an annoyed look, then shook her head and turned to the vid display.
  20.  
  21. A moment later she declared, “That’s impossible!”
  22.  
  23. “That’s what I said!”
  24.  
  25. She snatched the remote and repeated the vid.
  26.  
  27. The mirrored racer was jumping mid-air, leaping to avoid a low slash of a giant sword. As the mirrored racer was jumping another sword was coming down vertically. Physics fixed him in a parabolic arc, and the sword was certain to hit him. It was something Alita was still careful about, even at this level, since she could get caught in a bad situation without an out.
  28.  
  29. It was the basis of Panzer Kunst to controlling one’s path and inertia, utilizing it as a tool, and it was an instinct she couldn’t ignore. She could move her body a little mid-air by repositioning her limbs, there was no technique to alter her center of balance. She could also spin-up to gather energy for an attack or spin-down to land safely, but her jumping path was fixed.
  30.  
  31. Physics had irrevocable demands. He denied them.
  32.  
  33. What he did was magic.
  34.  
  35. His hand reached out to his side, grasped the thin air, and he pulled himself out of danger by yanking on nothing.
  36.  
  37. She repeated the vid. Same thing.
  38.  
  39. “Was it a microfilament wire?”
  40.  
  41. “I checked ultra hi-rez. The motorball commission uses them to check for cheaters,” Coach explained, “There’s nothing. There wasn’t a wire waiting for him nor did he shoot one out of his hand. He straight up grabbed the air.”
  42.  
  43. “Electromagnetism?”
  44.  
  45. Coach showed her a snapshot with a camera filter. Both the racers were black silhouettes but outlining them was a purple color. The sworded opponent had a tight and brighter aura. The mirrored racer’s aura was large enough to encompass them both and then some, but faded.
  46.  
  47. “He has a weak field surrounding him, sure, a lot wider radius than most other racers. But it’s nowhere near the required strength to move him. I have no idea what it’s for. It would get him kicked out anyway.”
  48.  
  49. Alita shook her head in confusion.
  50.  
  51. “Oh, that’s not the most bizarre, check out this one.”
  52.  
  53. Coach took the remote from her and changed vids to a paused scene. This time he was firmly on the ground, with a wide stable base. Alita noted the mirrored racer was flat-footed, actuators pulled his rollers to the side so he could plant his feet.
  54.  
  55. The same sword was swinging down.
  56.  
  57. “Before I play the vid study his arm. How much armor do you see on it?”
  58.  
  59. “Standard chassis, EEMR I think? No, wait, he shaved it down. There’s hardly any armor on it at all. Don’t tell me he blocks that giant sword!”
  60.  
  61. “Don’t take my word for it.”
  62.  
  63. In his situation, I could roll and counter-attack. I could also parry, or if the enemy was slow, I could just catch the blade and disarm them.
  64.  
  65. But block? No way. Even with my berserker body, I’d lose an arm.
  66.  
  67. Coach hit play.
  68.  
  69. The sword came down and bounced off his extended forearm. It wasn't deflected to the side, it didn't get stuck in his arm, the sword bounced straight off. Coach paused the vid again. The sword had a crack running through it.
  70.  
  71. At the very least he should have been knocked back!
  72.  
  73. The only damage on his arm was a small section of armor cut open.
  74.  
  75. “You saw him in the pit yesterday, did you see anything usual?”
  76.  
  77. Alita shook her head, “No, he was actually repairing his arm, and I saw inside it. Now that I think about it, his body is definitely a lot flimsier than justifies this!”
  78.  
  79. “I checked with the commission. The mirrored racer has been accused of cheating more than two-dozen times and every single time he’s been cleared. No evidence at all. And the weird thing? He’s never promoted out of intermediate despite this much skill--magic--whatever this is--in over ninety games. Most pros don’t even go past thirty games.”
  80.  
  81. She rubbed her temples, “Okay, so how did he block my sword with that crappy knife?”
  82.  
  83. “Now that one I can explain,” Coach said, holding up an identical comb-shaped knife, “Behold, a 'Sword Catcher.' The concept is simple, even swords with a monomolecular edge have to have a standard thickness spine to keep it from being flimsy. These teeth grip the sword by the side while the edge is trapped in the space between. He modified his sword with a gripping motion so you couldn’t also pull it free, kind of like a finger-trap.”
  84.  
  85. “Why would he have one of these?”
  86.  
  87. “I'd guess he did his research on you.”
  88.  
  89. “So if that can be explained then maybe this, too?”
  90.  
  91. “I don’t know. I’ll be honest, I’ve been in this biz for a while, Alita, and no one has stumped me like this."
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