Dust: Chapter 07 Part 5

[I don’t know who you are]. Kitty called down to the other figure. [But I’m about to own you like Spock owns Kirk in a fanfiction written by a lonely teenage girl.]

It was an old line. But still a good one.

The figure reconfigured to its real avatar, a sleek black and chrome cyberninja with a lithe, almost feminine figure under all that armour plating.

The Cyberninja drew a high-tech sword and screamed. [Shi-neh!]

Kitty had just enough time to drop her invisibility app before he was upon her.

Kitty parried three lightning-fast swings with her magic staff and gave ground by one step so they could both fit on the little platform. The cyberninja threw a dozen thrusts at Kitty’s face in the space of a second which Kitty deflected with deft but short movements from her staff.

At the same time she reached into her menus and changed one of the settings on her floating platform.

Kitty’s moves were as fluid and precise as an ancient master’s. They should be, she’d lifted them from the Total-Immersion game ‘Burning Soul’ and adapted them into a skill package. From the look of her acrobatics I guessed they came from ‘Taro’s Adventure’.

Cyberninja slashed at Kitty’s throat level, bouncing his blade off Kitty’s deflection and flicking his wrist around to come at her from the other side. Kitty ducked under this swing and back-flipped out of the way of his next. Once her high-heeled feet left the platform it disappeared.

Cyberninja plummeted to the ground while Kitty sailed gracefully through the air.

There being no pain in the matrix Cyberninja recovered quickly, dematerialising his sword and hadokening bolts of burning green at her.

Kitty summoned another platform while in mid-air and then immediately put up a wall between her and the next green bolt. After giving her opponent enough time to plan his next move Kitty removed the wall and unleashed a magical bolt of her own.

Kitty’s was a malevolent blast of dark purple that showed up in her active apps as ‘Something with numbers’. I had no idea what it did but it looked nasty.

Cyberninja wasn’t going to hang around to find out either. He unleashed his last bolt and back-flipped out of the way. Kitty deleted the platform under her feet before the last bolt could reach her and dropped safely back to the floor.

As the Cyberninja’s feet also returned to the ground, Kitty gripped her staff and twisted her wrists changing its colour from stark black to deep red.

Cyberninja fired another two bolts at her. So Kitty showed off a little, throwing herself into a butterfly-twist to avoid the first bolt while deflecting the second bolt at the same time.

Kitty stuck the landing, grounding herself as quickly as she could. Before her opponent could get his next shot off, Kitty aimed her staff at him and squeezed with her trigger finger.

The staff shot its end out at Cyberninja, extending the length of the shaft as fast an arrow from a bow. The end hammered into his solar-plexus, taking him clean off his feet and uploading the first packet of a virus called ‘Hardcrush’.

Kitty squeezed with her little finger and the staff retracted as quickly as it lengthened. When she had it back, Kitty stuck the end in the ground and squeezed her trigger finger again.

Cyberninja kipped back up to his feet and growled at Kitty.

He stopped when he realised Kitty wasn’t there anymore.

On pure instinct he looked up. The end of Kitty’s staff connected with his face a moment later.

That hit knocked him right off his feet again. As she dropped down onto him Kitty shortened her staff down to a two-foot stick and summoned a clone of it in her free hand. She caught up with Cyberninja on the first bounce and proceeded to play the drums on his head. ‘Hardcrush’ worked very differently to the ‘Signal cutter’ bolts. It attacked the hard drive, messing with its firmware and causing a catastrophic drive failure that forced his machine’s OS to shut down. With an unceremonious ‘blip’ he vanished from the matrix.

“Yeah.” Kitty grinned.

Kitty dematerialised her second stick and returned the first to normal in a flourish.

[That… that was pretty kick-arse actually. Well done.]

Kitty tossed her virtual hair. [It was nothing.]

I sighed, she’d stunted my new found appreciation of her at birth. [Now the difficult question: How the hell did they find us?]

[Doesn’t matter. He lost. Unless he’s got another machine ready to go we won’t be seeing him again.]

[What are the chances that he does?]

[Would you spend twice as much money buying two high-end laptops or put all that money into buying one really kick-ass machine? Makes as much sense as a street racer buying two Mazda SX-9’s when for the same price they could get one and drop in the engine from a Ferrari GT-10, with the change leftover they could add a pearl to the paint job.]

[Point. Any footage left to touch-up?]

Moe-Moe rolled her vidwindow back into view. [Mostly done, I’ve contacted some friends from the J. We’re still rotorscoping you guys out of the footage.]

[What about that guard he shot?] I asked. [Won’t he be raising an alarm in the meat world?]

[Absolutely.] Kitty said. [But we’ll be well on our way before he can do anything meaningful in the meat-world.]

[Right.]

Kitty stopped or a moment. Her avatar tensed where it stood, then her head flicked up from the vid-window and she rocketed up into the air again. Narrowly avoiding a glowing purple bolt.

Kitty turned a dizzying 180° in mid-air and landed facing the portal.

“Looks like I’ll have to dig another grave in the field.” Kitty said as she looked up at her assailant.

“That’s okay.” The boyish voice responded. “It won’t need to be a big one, after all you’ll only be burying my brain.”
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