Tachi snapped up his pistol and hammered away at the trigger, while I grabbed my SMG and swept it towards her in a wide arc, spitting out a line of hot, steel-cored armour piercers that reached from one side of the lab doors to the other.
Kiru took the first two rounds from Tachi in the left shoulder, ducked under my fire and dived for Tachi. A loud compressed-air ‘Hisss’ sounded and she cleared the two metres from the door to her target in one jump.
She collided with his hips, folding Tachi in half and took him to the ground behind one of the operating benches. She kicked her legs over, cartwheeling over his body as he hit the ground.
I caught the faintest hint of a garter on her leg before she too disappeared behind the bench.
[Atom, jam her wireless transmissions before she gets a message to RCF. PR, we need your boys up here NOW!]
[Yes Dust!] Atom said.
[They on their way.] PR added.
I barely heard PR’s reply when a piece of Tachi’s pistol flew out from behind the workbench and sailed passed my ear. Instinctively I covered my face with my arm and the gun when I saw a second piece of pistol head my way.
When it bounced off my elbow I snapped the arm down quick to put another burst over the bench.
But as my arm came down I found myself staring into Kiru no Yubi‘s cybereyes.
My entire body seized up in panic. I could see nothing but the escher-esque image of my mirrored lenses reflected in her own, repeated and reduced infinitely in each other. Then something heavy and metallic hit my foot, followed by something limp and wet.
“Oh My God!” Noodles yelled.
My pain editor flashed red and I realised it was my right arm.
I know you don’t like what I do with that arm, BUT WILL YOU LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE!
It came as much a surprise to me as it did to Kiru, but the next thing I felt was pain in my knuckles as they impacted with her prosthetic face.
Kiru rode the impact, twisted her body around to put her hips below mine and Judo threw me into the puddle I’d created on the ground. I felt my foot clip something hard on one of the benches and some computer gear got knocked over.
Kiru raised her thick piston-heel above my face and was a heartbeat away from turning my skull into a roadkill pizza. Then Tachi’s foot smashed into her chest and took her off her feet.
Tachi flicked a glance down at me and his mouth dropped open. I turned to look at my right shoulder and saw a torrent of blood emptying out of me like a special effect in an ‘ironic’ indie horror movie.
It was bizarre, I couldn’t feel the pain, but I could basically count my pulse-rate by the gushes of blood spewing out of me.
Tachi tensed for a second, then looked back up at his sister and jumped out of the way. That tell-tale
‘Hisss’ sounding as she cleared the length of the room in a single bound.
Absently, I decided I should probably do something about this shoulder before I bled to death. The swirling soup that was my mind at this point brought up something about once the femoral artery is severed the patient has only three minutes before they bleed out. I remember scolding my foolish mind, the femoral artery is in the upper leg, having an entire arm severed part-way through the collar bone would give me significantly less time than that.
I reached across to my right hip where I’d unhelpfully mounted the first-aid kit on my webbing and tore it off the Velcro. This also disconnected it from the fatigues and the pouch reverted to its default black.
I wormed my fingers inside the pouch and spread them wide to open it, before closing them around the largest object it contained: My can of spray skin.
As the darkness began forming at the edges of my vision I popped off the lid with my thumb and liberally applied the hot, white foam to the fountain erupting from my shoulder.
The foam engulfed the shoulder quickly and then began to set, sealing the wound right away.
With that done, I lacked the energy even to hold back the sigh of relief. The spray-skin can fell from my grasp and I slumped into the pool of my own blood.
“DUST!” Noodles screamed. “Dust are you okay?”
I looked up at the monitor, I could barely make out Noodles’ avatar and my head felt like it was wrapped in shag carpet.
“Noodles?” I managed to groan.
“Oh thank god you’re alive.” I couldn’t tell if his avatar was hyperventilating or just wobbling in my vision. “Dust you’ve got to get me out of here, I’m stuck in this case.”
That’s right! My mind exclaimed. Suddenly I felt the worlds outside and inside my head snap into focus again.
Noodles’ monitor towered above me, he looked even more like a scared kid than usual. I pulled myself up off the floor and found the console Noodles was hooked up to lying at an angle, a heel-sized dent in the side of its case.
No idea when that happened. The biopod, thankfully, landed sunny-side up, reducing any chance Noodles’ exposed brain had been damaged by contact with foreign organisms. Of course the bolts I needed to screw back in were now all over the floor.
Noodles’ avatar screamed and pointed. “Dust! LOOK OUT!”
I didn’t even wait for the second exclamation point. Nor did I care that I was diving on the side that no-longer had an arm to break my fall.
Kiru no Yubi landed right behind where I’d been kneeling and brought her wires down in a wide slash. So wide it went beyond where I’d been kneeling and extended over the desk.
I saw the detached fingertips bounce off the table before Kiru realised what she’d done. Her face fell as the monofilament wires rose back up and sliced effortlessly through Noodles’ exposed brain for the second time.
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