Dust: Chapter 02 Part 3

In between breaths I said. “<Lie down on the floor and stay there until your comrades come for you. Move even once and you’re a dead man.>

Truth was I was wasted. My adrenaline was running out and my stomach was empty. I’d been fasting all week and one protein shake does not a full meal make. I knew from the simulations we ran that my body would start crashing from the lack of nutrients any minute now.

I pushed away from the cowering cyberninja. [Tachi.] I cyped. [You still there mate?]

[I am…] Tachi replied. […a little preoccupied at present.]

I wanted to get up and see if I could help him. But I couldn’t find the energy. The only weapon that could actually hurt the cyberninja were the monoblades and even if I could summon the strength to rejoin the battle, what would the point be? They had us trapped. If they were smart they’d pull up the fire doors and keep tossing flash bangs and gas grenades until we either surrendered or made a break for it, right into their fields of fire.

Hell if they were patient they could keep us here till we starved. There was only so much food in this little cafe. Then a thought struck me, forcing out all other thoughts at that moment. I HAVE FOOD!

Yeah. I wish it’d been something more dramatic too.

I reached into the cake display and started helping myself to the lemon tarts. The rational part of my mind kept nagging that I would have been better off going for the sandwiches, get some real nutrition in me. Sadly the tarts were closer. I washed them down with a can of iced tea before starting on the cakes.

Tachi hopped over the cafe wall, assault rifle fire snapping hungrily after him. Bullet holes peppered his entire body and his monoblades were slick with cerebral fluid. And here I was sitting on the floor with a slice of bavarian cream cake wedged in my mouth.

Tachi landed with a foot either side of the cowering cyberninja and dropped down to his knees. He raised an eyebrow at me.Are we enjoying ourselves?”

I noticed that I didn’t actually stop eating as I replied. [Careful, that one’s still alive.]

Tachi’s eyes flew open and already I knew I’d made a mistake.

[No wait!]

The very next moment Tachi thrust both blades right into the cyberninja’s back. He sputtered as a small jet of cerebral fluid shot up into the air. Suddenly I didn’t feel hungry any more.

I put the remains of the cake back in the display case.So now what do we do? Before we die I mean.”

Can’t Noodles do anything to help us?”

You heard him, there’s some kind of hacking machine in the security network…”

Then it hit me.

We never checked the A.I. for tracking devices did we?”

Professor Sakazato was making you feel uncomfortable.” Tachi said, disapprovingly.Not that I don’t find your outmoded chivalry terribly amusing.”

I grabbed the backpack from under the counter and opened it up, then I opened up the backpack inside that and pulled out the A.I.’s biopod. A few moments with my phillips head later and I found out why it had been installed in a biopod.

I showed Tachi the contents.Is that… flesh?”

No. That is brain matter.” Tachi corrected.Or something like it.”

The A.I. did have some organic components amongst all the platinum wiring. I couldn’t find anything that looked like a homing transmitter, but right down near the bottom I did find the A.I.’s wireless network card. Now that presented an interesting possibility. A stroke of my monoscalpel later and the connection was severed.

[Noodles. Get your arse back in the security system. I think I’ve neutralised your uber-hacker.]

[What the?] Came Noodles’ stunned reply [He’s in the Food court?]

[Actually yes. He’s probably the A.I.]

[‘It’ is the A.I.] Tachi corrected. [And shame on you Noodles for assuming the hacker was a man.]

[Sorry Mom!] Noodles said. His avatar’s eyes rolling.

After a few minutes Noodles closed the plexiglass fire doors in front of the security ops, blocking their line of fire.

[Gentlemen.] Noodles bowed ceremonially. [May I direct you to the exit?]

The security screen in front of one of the food court vendors rolled open. [In the back of their kitchen is a service corridor that links up with the underground parking lot. I’ll pose as the A.I. and send the guards in the opposite direction.]

[Alright mate. We’re out of here.]

Finally, we were back on plan again. I got to my feet, wiped the cake off my face with my sleeve and we made our careful way out of the food court.

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