Don't Piss Me Off

Apr 3rd, 2019
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  1. Finding work in Iron City can be a challenge, especially if you don’t find the limited variety of Factory-approved jobs appealing. For you, it has meant working as a trawler; digging through the Zalem trash and offcuts which trickle endlessly down to Scrapheap. To survive in this line of work means either being early or being exceptionally skilled. In your case, early was the better pick. So you find yourself poking through the menagerie of steel and plastics as the sun has only just risen beyond the horizon. It’s hard to leave Alita snoozing in bed every morning, but the life you share together feels worth it.
  3. A little glint at the bottom an especially large pile catches your eye. You kneel down for a closer look; your examination distracts you enough that you don’t notice the pair of boots in front of you until they’re already too close. You sigh quietly, recognizing the owner. Any second now.
  5. “Hey faggot. Looking for something?” The cruelty in the voice is unmistakable. It sends a spike of dread straight through your gut, and you feel your hand tremble a little as you slowly rise. Before you stands a girl, dressed in the usual patched trawler’s coat. Her blonde hair flows past her shoulders, and the hardness of her eyes complements the malicious grin she constantly wears. The combination is wicked. You try your best to meet her gaze, but find that the fear overwhelms your resolve and you glance at the two cronies behind her. Gutter-trash the both of them.
  7. “Just- leave me alone Kiora.” Your words are more resigned than forceful. Still, her face shifts slightly, and you feel the overwhelming dread at what you know is coming. You beg your body to move but you stand frozen; a rabbit in the eye of an eagle. She steps closer and runs her finger from your chest up to your chin. The pressure sparks a deep revulsion inside as she speaks, sickly sweet and cloying.
  9. “But honey, we were so good together. Don’t you just miss us?” The mockery oozes through the false cuteness. Suddenly she slaps you; hard. Your face stings and you feel the shame burning through you as you stumble and trip back to the ground. The cruel laughter echoes in your ears and you hear her final words while she walks away.
  11. “You should stay down. Trash deserves trash.”
  13. -/-/-
  15. Alita sits on the edge of a half-scrapped building, watching as her love picks through Scrapheap. Normally she would simply enjoy the morning sleep, but with the rest of the day off it seems worth the trouble to see how her partner works. She’s captivated by the beauty of the figure’s movements. Watching someone work their expertise is fascinating. She watches, content in the morning sun. Her casual voyeurism comes to a heart-wrenching conclusion though as she watches a group of girls walk up to her love. They're soft, no cybernetics visible. She can’t hear the words, but she recognises the movements clear as day. The affection behind the blonde girl’s touch causes bile to rise in her throat and she feels the need to run. Escape. Fury clashes with tears as she leaps across the rooftops of Iron City. She doesn’t know how far she runs. It doesn’t matter. After what feels like hours, she eventually finds herself back at the apartment. The fury has faded now. All that remains is a deep, bone-aching sorrow. She barely has the energy to make it to the bedroom before collapsing in to the bed. She weeps for the trust lost. She weeps for you.
  17. -/-/-
  19. The rest of the day is fairly uneventful. You exchange what you’ve managed to salvage with the union rep, and make your way home, the bag of credits dangling as you walk. Your mind drifts through the usual questions and daydreams and it’s only once you’re inside the apartment that you realise Alita hasn’t come to greet you. Concern wells inside as you immediately drop your things. It takes only a quick search, but your relief upon finding Alita curled up in bed is replaced by another wave of concern as you hear her soft sobs. You go to her and gently put your hand on her back.
  21. “Ali? What’s wrong?”
  23. She rolls away from you and sits up against the back wall of the bed. Her eyes are rimmed with red, and her hair is a disorganised mess. You feel your heart break as she looks at you, betrayal mixed with sorrow across her beautiful features. Her voice comes out in short, broken steps.
  25. “You don’t love me any more, do you?”
  27. You feel your mind spin as you try to make sense of her accusation.
  29. “I love you more than anything. Hey, what’s made you think that?” You scoot over to her and carefully put an arm around her shoulder. She freezes for a moment, then leans in to it.
  31. “I saw you at work, with that girl. She’s- normal!” Alita chokes slightly on the last word and buries her head in your shoulder. The word builds a wave of sorrow through you.
  33. Normal.
  35. Suddenly you understand, and you softly stroke her hair as you tell her the full story.
  37. “That’s Kiora. We used to be together, but things didn’t end so well. I try to avoid her when I can, but she’s pretty high up in the union at work. I think- she enjoys the power.”
  39. You show Alita the outline of Kiora’s hand on your face, and her sorrow turns to concern immediately.
  41. “Is your face ok?”
  43. She gently takes your face in her hands, and you feel the warmth as affection flows back in to the room. You lean in to her and speak.
  45. “Yeah it’s ok. I’ve had worse.”
  47. Something seems to ignite in her eyes, and after you’ve cleaned up the room together and shared a small dinner, she tells you that she needs to go for a hunt tonight. With a quick kiss, she sets out the door, in to the darkness of Iron City. She always comes back safe, so you take the time to try and drift off to sleep, hopefully waking to a less-dramatic tomorrow.
  49. -/-/-
  51. Despite yesterday’s turmoil, you wake feeling surprisingly refreshed. It is, after all, a new day. When you give Alita her usual morning goodbye kiss, her mumbled reply sounds a little sharper than normal. Still, her face is serene, and you know again how lucky you are to share your life with her. A trip through the morning crowds later and Scrapheap looms over you once more. There’s been an especially big garbage drop today, and everyone is scrambling to get through the best of the goods. You find yourself lost in the race, and eventually it’s out near the edge of Scrapheap that you almost collide with Kiora and her cronies again. You freeze, and your face begins to sting almost unconsciously. So wrapped up are you in your own dread that you only just notice that Kiora isn’t saying anything. Indeed, she’s looking right past you; her face sheet-white. Your fear ebbs for a moment, and you turn to look behind you. Sitting on the roof of a rusted truck chassis is Alita. The sun behind her casts a glow over the red streaks of war paint down her cheeks. Her beige hunter’s coat sways in the slight breeze, and the Damascus blade sits casually in her lap. She smiles at you and then looks straight at Kiora. Her eyes are deadly, and the slow wave she does brings out a slight whimper in your antagonist. You watch in amazement as Kiora quickly turns and limps off, followed by her two sycophants.
  53. Alita hops down off the chassis and steps over to you. She gives you a tight hug, and you hesitantly return it. When you break apart you see the fire clear in her eyes.
  55. “Hey Ali-” you pause for a moment to try and process your next question. “What was that?”
  57. She takes your hand and grips it almost painfully firmly as she responds. The love in her voice is mixed with steel.
  59. “I paid her a visit last night. She won’t ever bother you again.” Her intensity is almost overwhelming as she continues. “If she ever tries, she will need someone better than Ido to put her back together.”
  61. You slowly nod, and she pulls you closer; your faces now only inches apart, before she speaks again.
  63. “If you have problems like this, I want to hear about them. No one is allowed to hurt you.”
  65. “It’s ok Ali, I’ll be fine. It’s just life.” Your voice is less resolved than you would have liked.
  67. She shakes her head firmly, and puts more pressure on your hand.
  69. “It’s not fine. I will protect you even if you don’t understand it. I don’t need your permission to do it. You don’t need to argue. I love you, even when you’re wrong.”
  71. You feel the love and concern and warmth blend in to a storm inside, and you do the only thing you can think of. You kiss her, and you feel the unwavering strength in her response. The afternoon sun scatters over the two of you, linked in the rough of Scrapheap.
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