When they automatically retracted, one of the lines was pulled taunt for a second before pulling a slice of brain loose from the rest.
Then the entire biopod and its contents fell into a pile of neatly diced pieces.
I watched in horror as Noodles died. His avatar went rigid and I saw the intelligence drain away from his eyes, leaving an unblinking model where an animate person once stood.
Kiru slowly turned towards me, her whole body shook with building fury, like at any moment the coat on her shoulders would burst into flames.
Then without warning she violently yanked her head backwards as the tip of Tachi’s left sword shot out at her temple. Tachi pushed the blade passed her face and pulled it back, trying to take her head off on the reverse.
Kiru bobbed under the blade and Tachi swung around with his second sword. Kiru pulled back this time and the tip of his blade missed her throat by an inch.
Kiru pranced towards him and waved with her cutting fingers again. When Tachi blocked them with his sword, she jumped away, recoiling her fingers as they wrapped around his blade.
Quickly Tachi twirled the sword with the strings so they couldn’t catch and rip it from his hand.
The lines retracted and Kiru danced around Tachi some more before jumping forward and shooting out her strings again. Tachi came in with both swords, brushing aside the strings with one while swinging at her neck with the other.
Kiru ducked under the blade, grabbed Tachi’s collar, dropped so low she got her shoulder under his groin and threw him over her.
Tachi spread his fingers out around the handles and caught himself before he hit the ground, kicking his legs over to flip around to his feet again. He threw a back kick at her which Kiru parried on her way up. Tachi brought the foot back down and pivoted on it to bring his sword around.
Kiru threw her strings out at him, then as Tachi caught the wires, she shot out a spinning back-kick into his solar-plexus. She fired her heel just as she made contact.
The impact knocked Tachi off his feet and sent one of his mono blades clattering off towards the door. The force of the blast affected Kiru as much as Tachi, but she’d obviously tried this move before as she directed the force into a rotation and pirouetted on the spot.
Tachi pulled himself back up by the aid of a metal hospital trolley before hoisting it off the ground and hurling it at her. Using it as a distraction while he went to retrieve his other sword.
Kiru dive-rolled under the trolley and closed with her brother, not even slowing down.
Without the time to pick it up, Tachi stomped his foot on the monosword’s handle and slid it back behind him, the blade rotating around the grip at just below ankle-height. Kiru leapt to avoid the spinning blade taking off her feet and turned the leap into a flying kick at Tachi’s chest.
Until Tachi grabbed her ankle while she was still airborne, yanked her right out of her flight path, caught her again at the chin and slammed her head into the floor.
Kiru took the impact and was moving again in a second. She grabbed the arm holding her with both hands and did a break-dancing spin on the cracked ceramic floor. Putting her at tops and tails with her brother. From there she fired the piston on her first heel, smashing that foot into Tachi’s face like a sledgehammer. Her other foot caught up with the first and fired its heel into Tachi’s face.
Tachi rocked back and stumbled until he fell flat on his arse. The realskinn over half his chin was missing, torn away from the hit. He held the same amount of Kiru’s coat in his hand.
Kiru stood back up and shrugged off the rest of the coat. It fell to the floor revealing the black satin corset underneath and the garter I’d seen earlier. I found Noodles’ story a lot harder to doubt.
“<Well.>” Kiru said to Tachi, her voice softening. “<Looks like we’re even now. You’ve killed my lover and I’ve killed yours.>”
Tachi locked his eyes tight onto his sister’s face. “<So it would seem.>”
Kiru sighed. “<Father still wants you to come back. With… him gone you don’t really have anything keeping you away any more.>”
“<Self-preservation is reason enough for me.>” Tachi said. “<It would be suicide to betray my employers.>”
Kiru snorted quietly. “<So now you understand what loyalty is. If you had learned that before you met ‘him’, you wouldn’t have thrown your life away.>”
Tachi chuckled and picked himself up off the ground. Discarding the torn piece of Kiru’s coat as he did so. “<Leaving, dear sister, didn’t ruin my life. It started it.>”
Kiru grit her teeth. “<Tell me why?>” She growled. <Why are you so ready to die for this ‘contract’, when you couldn’t stick by your own family?>”
“<You do not attain victory by dying for the job.>” Tachi smiled and raised his sword again. “<You get it by making the other guy die for theirs.>”
“<Well said mate.>” I grinned.
Kiru whipped her head around to see me, seething rage pumping back into her face. While Tachi kept her talking, she hadn’t noticed me sneak behind her to retrieve Tachi’s other sword.
“<Why won’t you just DIE?”>
“<I dunno.>” I smirked and raised the sword at her. “<Maybe you’re not trying hard enough?>”
Kiru bared her teeth at me, set her heel in the ground and launched off it. Tachi sprinted after her.
I hefted the ultralight weapon over my head and hurled it at Kiru.
Kiru dropped down to her knees and arched her head back, limbo-sliding under the blade, which stabbed into the floor behind her until Tachi plucked it out on his way through.
Kiru popped up again from her slide, putting her face right into the path of my boot. Kiru paid me back by shooting out her long, sleek legs and trapping my ankle between them. With a flick of her hips, she pulled me sideways and slammed my face into the ground. My tech specs shattered and I jammed my eyes shut to keep shards from getting in.
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