Battle Angel Alita
An epilogue of the epilogue (pre-Last Order)
In the fishing city of Alhambra (Figure Four's home village), one year after the rediscovery of Alita…
Figure awoke to the commotion of metallic clattering sounds emanating from his kitchen, not uncommon of mornings such as that one. The ex-mercenary stumbled out of bed, tripping over the sheets he had somehow managed to twist himself in, and pulled back his long hair into its signature ponytail. The sun had been up for only an hour or two.
Alita stood in the kitchen, bent studiously over a pot of what smelled to be soup. Her black bob pulled into a high, foofy pony-tail on the pack of her head she cautiously stirred the thickening broth with a spoon, eyebrows knitting closely over the scrawled words of the recipe.
The clean sunshine of the seaside morning vicously stabbed its way through the dust motes floating near the open window, piercing the kitchen with a violent shaft of gold. Screams of seagulls wafted in on the salty breeze coming off the waves, and for a moment, the world felt shakingly peaceful. Figure sighed as he gazed stupidly at Alita for a moment. The eight years had been worth the wait.
Quietly he padded across the floor in hopes of startling the newly-made human, though he already knew quite well that she had already sensed him, her Panser Kunst training still as balanced and finely tuned as it had been when she was still Yoko; the terrorist.
Still, he came up behind her and wrapped his arms about her lean waist, pressing his face to the place where her shoulder met her neck. Alita continued to stir her concoction, her face calm, pensive.
Alita kind of hated cooking. She knew she didn't have to, Figure could cook well enough himself, but since she got her human body she had experienced a feeling she never had to worry about before; hunger. And since Figure went fishing earlier that she did she was forced to cook for herself while he was out.
Alita reached into the pot with a finger to test the temperature, only to jump back with a cry when it burned her. She cast a hurt look at Figure before sucking on her burn, stirring the soup even so. She was still getting used to her human body. Needing to eat, to shower, to sleep. Experiences things such as big, purple bruises, burns such as the one she was just clumsy enough to give herself, and injuries like cuts that took what to her was an amazingly long time to heal. She didn't understand how humans even survived living a day, let alone a lifetime. It was quite exhausting, making sure not to end up killing herself somehow.
Figure raised his eyes from where he had been resting his chin on her shoulder, twisting the strings of her apron around his fingers absent-mindedly, his thoughts a thousand miles away and eight years ago.
"You know," he hummed bemusedly, voice verging on dreamy, "I still can't believe you're human."
"Niether can I." she admitted in a murmur, reaching a hand over her clavicle to lay it on Figure's cheek. "I never realized how difficult it was to be a human." Sometimes I even feel a twinge of regret, fear even, once in a while. Alita finished in her head, not daring to say it out loud in fear of Figure's reaction to her confession.
Figure pressed his mouth to her shoulder and chuckled, his laugh vibrating pleasantly through her vertebrae. "I wonder what the world would think of you now, eh Alita? Zapan, Doc Nova, Barjack, Lou…Ido?" With each name he spoke a painful tremor went through her stomach, the memories of each individual, be them pleasant or horrifying, flashed before her eyes like a subliminal message, each resembling a stiff backhand across the face.
"Yeah…" she agreed, voice trailing off into the dusty morning air. Figure shifted, tightening his grip around her waist and pressing a soft kiss to the base of her neck, brushing a tapering hand over her pronounced collarbone.
"I'm just glad you're alive, 'Lita. Alive and still in love with me, of course."
"Whoever said I loved you? You smell much too fishy." The former hunter-warrior teased, a sly grin lightening her features. He pinched her for making fun but graced her with a smile, wrapping a strip of cloth around his head as a headband.
"Well sweets, I'll be back in a few minutes, I'm going to empty the shore nets and check over to see what's washed into the tide pools."
"Will you grab a bucket of oysters too?" she called after him as he walked out the door, wiping her hands on her apron. "Oh, and grab the mail!" In recent years the Tiphareans who had made it down safely from Tiphares had started a mail service, and since the service meant more jobs the whole thing was going surprisingly well.
"Sure thing!" Figure replied over his shoulder, Alita's good mood once again successfully putting a jolly bounce in his step.
Even though Alita felt a bit house-wifey now, she knew it would get better later when she went to her boat construction job on the shores, and then, after noon had passed, she would go out from the wharf with the rest of the fishing boats, armed with a harpoon and gutting knives. Although, even with that excitement she had never shaken her continuous urge to fight.
Every week the former cyborg would grab her protective casement armor and metal body plating, hop on her sandbike, and drive into a nearby dryland metropolis not unlike the Scrapyard to play her favorite sport; motorball. It was her way of breaking free of her humanity, and also a way of proving she was still as strong and wicked-scary as she had been when her body was 87% metal. And, judging by her top-place score in the arena, she was proving her point. Undefeated. Now that was something she could sink her teeth into when she was feeling too human and weak.
She found herself suddenly thinking of Lou. She had a family now, a husband and two paternal twin children, a boy and girl named Nuri and Keat. Whenever Alita visited the two blonde-haired rascals came running up to attack her with hugs, calling her aunt; a name Alita expected never to be dubbed.
There was also, apparently, less crime in the Scrapyard. In fact, it was at an all time low, according to Kiyomi.
Thinking back to her homecity and its crime suddenly brought an image of Hugo to Alita's mind, and she sighed through her smile, chest pinching. It was still hard to think about sometimes, the way he'd grinned genuinely at her before gravity yanked him back cruelly to the ghastly world below, the clouds swallowing him in their shadow, shielding her from the horror of his drop. It had been so quiet up there in the sky, high above the grit of the Scrapyard. So mute. Detached. Shaken, Alita moved her thoughts away from the subject. Though thoughts of the past would still not leave her be.
She thought about Yoko, her former self in another, less well-understood life. It was like a television show you'd only seen a few, mismatched episodes of. The plot-line was but a ghost in her mind. But oh, how she hated that person! That creature, that thing she had once been god-knows how many years ago, a terrorist. She abhorred herself. Who was this woman? This character that killed a man named Beltram just because it was asked of her by a superior, killed him in cold blood when he obviously loved her, and who she clearly had strong feelings for as well. Why couldn't she have heeded his ideas, listened to his thoughts, saved him, taken him away with her instead of murdering him in his crippled shape? Alita already knew things would have been different, so much different…
"Hey Alita!" Figure's voice startled her out of her musings as it drifted in through the door, "We got a letter, and a package!" Alita raised her eyebrows in interest. He handed her the items that had come in the mail.
"They're both from Kiyomi." Alita announced after reading the labels, opening the letter quickly. Figure watched as Alita carefully scanned the page. "They're starting a newspaper in the Scrapyard, as if stories could ever run out in that hole of a city." Alita informed her companion, picking at the scratched and pock-marked face of the wooden kitchen table. Suddenly Alita's eyebrows rose considerably high. "Mm!"
"What?" Figure asked, walking around the table to read over her shoulder.
"Kiyomi's getting married," Alita said mildly, her expression pleasant, "next month. She tells us she doesn't care if we come or not because we're unimportant and weird. And destruction and bad luck follows us everywhere we go."
"Hasn't changed an inch, eh?" Figure smirked. Alita's expression became snarky.
"It'd serve her right if we didn't go, y'know? Being so rude in her invitation. Who else is closer than us to that little brat? I saved her life-more than once!" Alita whined. Figure squeezed her shoulder soothingly. "P.S.," Alita read out loud, holding the paper to the morning light, "she's sent us a gift. She says her fiancée is a partsman, and she asked him to make two of these, each different. She sent us one."
The package was actually quite large, rising easily to Alita's hip and as long as she was tall. Alita found her old Damascus blade on the shelf, still wickedly sharp, and took it down, sawing through the cardboard and tape as Figure helped, eager to find what was inside. Whatever it was was wrapped in a tatty, smelly old quilt, showing it was probably fragile. Careful, the two veterans unwrapped the gift.
It was a mechanical Doberman, metal body clean and new, parts glinting. It was the exact same model as one of Sara's father's dogs, ones that later protected Kiyomi in her kid years.
Figure, being handy with these sorts of things, found the button on the dog and turned it on. Alita watched as its eyes lit from their neutral glassy color to a mellow, clever blue. It stood up and tested its jaw and tail before barking excitedly, shoving its nose affectionately into Alita's outstretched hand. Figure patted the dog on the head.
"Kiyomi's fiancée sure is quite the partsman." Figure commented. Alita nodded absently. Outside, the first work bell dinged insistently and Alita and Figure turned to each other, grinning.
"See you for lunch?" Alita asked, taking Figure's stubbly, sun-browned face in her hands.
"Wouldn't miss it." He replied, kissing her firmly before jogging out the door-he was going to be late. Alita puttered around the kitchen for a moment, scooping the remaining soup into a container and tucking it into the dehydration cabinet so it could be rehydrated later, dumping crockery into the sink. When she had been far above Tiphares, far above Earth, suspended in space, the button of the detonator under her thumb, she'd said it was the end. She'd said goodbye to everything she'd loved, and then pushed the button on the device that was going to save thousands of people's lives. It had been "the end." But, in a cliché sort of way, it really wasn't. It was a half-ending. More like stopped, or paused, suspended eternally in that one moment when she pressed the trigger, just like Yoko's life had "paused" when her ship had blown up, taking half of her body clean off. It was kind of like an old tooth falling out and a new tooth growing in, except the old tooth stayed attached to the gum, almost forgotten, even as the new tooth existed.
First it had been Yoko's life. Then, rising out of the ashes of that life like some great, beautiful Phoenix came Battle Angel Alita's life, which was also split into chapters. Her hunter-warrior chapter, her motorball chapter, and then, after that, her "Tuned" chapter, when she worked as Tiphares' sic dog. And now came what she was beginning to call her "human life", in which she was simply called "Alita."
Turning to the mechanical dog, Alita patted the side of her thigh. She suddenly realized her new companion needed a name. The dark-haired woman grinned and whistled to the dog as it sauntered over, metal feet clicking on the floor.
"Come on pup, come on Hugo, we've got work to do." And Alita knew, and had known for a long, long time, that when things did finally end, they would end as they had begun, reaching the end of the long, metaphorical circle that was Alita's life. But for now, she was gonna milk it as much as she could, and never look back. And it was going to be one helluva ride.
"At least we got to say 'goodbye'"-Hugo, before his mechanical arm comes away in Alita's grasp and he falls to his fate in the clouds, peaceful smile on his face.