Dust: Chapter 05 Part 2

[At the risk of getting back to the point.] I dared to interrupt. [With Noodles gone and RCF on our case we need someone who can cover our backs on the matrix.]

[Oh I can do that!] Atom sounded exactly like a kid trying to get picked for the football team.

[] I sat (lay immobile on the bench, whatever) in still silence for a few moments. He was volunteering?

[I can’t let you do that Atom.]

[But why not? You saw what I could do at the arcology. I ran circles around your friend. I can do that for you if you let me.]

[I can’t trust you Atom.] I told him. [You’re the hostage. We kidnapped you and are planning to hand you over to our employers for an obscene amount of money.]

[Do you really have to?] Now he sounded like he was trying to get out of his homework.

[This far into the job? Yes Atom we do. If we backed out now they’d assume we were selling you to someone else and then we would have two murderous, mercenary teams chasing us. Do you understand?]

[Yes.]

Tachi spoke up again. [If not Atom…] I hoped that was just him being diplomatic. [Who do you have in mind to replace Noodles. Your little ‘thing’ with hackers is going to make recruitment difficult.]

[I was thinking of calling Kitty.]

[There’s a surprise.]

[What? She did good work on the Hamilton job and Noodles tells me she’s only gotten better.]

Atom asked [Who’s Kitty?]

[An attractive teenage girl Dust would love to get his hands on.]

[Okay, 1: Kitty is not a teenager.]

[But she does look very fetching in a short plaid skirt and her shirt tied in a knot above her navel.]

[2: You’re projecting. You clearly want to ’get your hands on’ her and this makes you think that I want to also.]

[But you do.]

[Of course I freakin’ do. You’ve seen her. But that is not the point. The point is that Kitty and Noodles are both members of J.Random Hacker so even on the off chance Kitty doesn’t want to follow in Noodles’ footsteps she can put the word out that we’re looking for someone with Elite skills. We’ve got Atom, the world’s first truly sentient artificial intelligence, hackers will throw themselves at us for the chance to work with him.]

[Really?] Atom asked.

[It] Tachi corrected.

[For the chance to work with ‘it’ then.]

[Why do you insist on calling me an ‘it’?]

[I just don’t want you to feel that we’re forcing a gender on you. You don’t have sexual organs so I don’t feel it’s right that anyone categorise you based on them.]

[Is… is that important?]

[Yeah kinda.] I said. [You’re lucky you wound up on the male side of that divide. It’s not a good thing, but even though it’s been almost a century since liberation if you came across as female you’d have a harder time being taken seriously.]

[It’s not lucky.] Tachi sneered. [Masculinity is still the default. To make Atom anything but male it would need to constantly talk about its hair and have a pink bow stuck on the casing.]

[Can we please talk about hackers now?]

[I thought you said you’d find someone easily?]

[Shut up.] I admit I did feel a little stupid at that point. [What’s the next part of the plan? We get us a hacker, then what?]

[Then I think we need to go back to Japan. Hide from our enemies right under their nose. Goliath is never going to see it coming.]

[Goliath? Maybe the Japanese bible is a little different, but on the TV special I saw David had God on his side, and the fact I immediately switched over to the porn channel pretty much guarantees we dont.]

[Then what do you suggest we do?]

[First things first, we gotta work out how long I’m going to be stuck in the clinic this time. If you can pick me up a prepaid tablet I can get online while I’m recovering. That should save us some time tracking down a hacker.]

[Prepaid tablet…] Tachi paused long enough to write a note in his head. [Anything else?]

[Remind the doctor that we can afford the really good anti-inflammatories. Oh and I need a new knife. Needs to be monofilament.]

Tachi chuckled. [I like how you said that so casually, like you were asking me for a tie.]

[Well then what would you get me for Christmas?]

[Probably some socks]. Tachi said. [I thought you said monoblades were too expensive for a weapon you may need to discard on a moment’s notice.]

[I was wrong. I’m man enough to admit that. If I’d had a monoknife I would have had an easier time with your cousin.]

[That guy who attacked Dust was your cousin?]

[You know, he may have been. What where his distinguishing features?]

[He had a thing for crocodile leather and a monovisor built into his face. Also he used a Shinjuki Slice ‘n Dice as his weapon. And from the way he refused to speak to me I think he might have been more than a little racist.]

Tachi was quiet for a moment. [Did he have some skill with the monowhip?]

[He cut off a policeman’s head and the body remained standing for several seconds.]

[That does not bode well.]

[Elaborate!]

[I do have a cousin named Toshi who used to follow my little sister around every time we had a family gathering. If she’s been teaching him how to use her signature weapon…]

[…We’re boned.]

[Huh?] Atom said [If Dust has managed to defeat the guy before why are you so worried?]

[Firstly] Tachi replied [Because life is not a Shonen anime and beating someone the once does not make them your inferior forever. Secondly, if Kiru’s disciple has been disgraced by Dust in this manner she may well be on her way to avenge him. And Kiru is not someone to be trifled with.]

[Hence: boned].

[I’ll go out amongst the world and handle our administrative tasks. In the meantime I’ll leave Atom with you. Try not to tell it all of our intimate secrets.]

[Yes mum.]

[Farewell Atom.]

[Bye Tachi]

With that Tachi disconnected.
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