Dust: Chapter 16 Part 4

After a lot of searching online and many painful hours trying to decipher the encrypted frequencies in the area I finally managed to hit pay dirt at around midnight. PR’s voice appeared in my head.

[He’s out! He’s heading for the fence! Someone hit the floods.]

I jumped on the cype. [Tachi is anything weird going on out there?]

[Funny you should mention that.] Tachi replied. [Take a look at this.]

Tachi streamed me his video feed.

I saw a cyborg I’d never seen before, one that looked like it had just been cobbled together from a bunch of separate prosthetic bodies but hadn’t been fully customised yet.

That cyborg was sprinting like a madman for the back fence.

[Stop him!] PR yelled in my ear. [Take him down before he gets away.]

Two Deadmen emerged from the gymnasium and took off after this cyborg.

[The hell is going on?] I asked.

[Would not have the foggiest idea.]

The new cyborg saw the two Deadmen on its tail and tried to run faster. The Deadmen put their enhanced prosthetics to the task and immediately began gaining ground on him.

He was almost at the fence when one of the tower guards opened fire.

[Who’s shooting? Don’t shoot! Don’t Shoot! We need him alive.]

The tower guard ignored PR and fired again. They were loud, reverberating single-shots. Suggesting an anti-material rifle or similar.

The second shot hit home, shattering plastic casing and steel bodywork alike. The runaway reached out to catch itself as its right knee disintegrated just before it could settle its weight onto the joint.

[Superb shot.] Tachi remarked.

Tachi couldn’t see it but I nodded.

Then PR’s voice came back on the cype. It was a little annoying not having any other voices to work with, but we hadn’t yet isolated anyone else’s signal. [Alright, alright. Good work. Just get the little bastard out of there and get him back inside.]

The two Deadmen slowed down and approached the downed cyborg cautiously. It was clawing at the ground, trying to crawl away. When the closest of the Deadmen reached it, the runaway turned around and gestured at him.

A second later, PR began groaning in agony.

What the hell was going on out there?

The two Deadmen staggered back, reaching for their chests like the runaway had somehow cursed them with heart attacks.

[Stop it!] PR screamed [Turn him off, turn ‘im off, turn’imoff.]

All of the groaning and writhing came to an end when that same tower guard strode up to the downed cyborg and levelled his massive rifle at the broken cyborg’s chest. The runaway stopped gesturing and raised his hands.

[Eurgh. Get him out and take him back to the server. We’ll work out what to do with him in the morning.]

The two Deadmen turned the runaway onto his belly and opened up the chassis, removing the biopod before carrying the body away separately.

[What did we just see?]

[I think that was Atom.] Tachi said.

[Atom? What the hell?]

[Well either that or Patriot Rap also had a captive cyborg with psychic powers.]

Then PR’s voice came back onto the cype. [So fucking look after him this time. I don’t care what you have to do, you keep him in your backpack from now on.]

[That clinched it.] I said. [I guess we just saw that static-burst attack Sakazato spoke of.]

[I would say so. I believe we may want to establish a quick-disable for our own wireless networks.]

[First thing tomorrow.] I replied. [Unless PR and Kitty are smart enough to disable Atom’s wireless like Sakazato did.]

[Smart enough. No doubt.] Tachi said. [Wise enough? Perhaps not.]

It still didn’t sit well with me. [Why would Atom bolt like that?]

[Well it appears PR and Kitty gave him the prosthetic body he wanted. But PR has plans and uses for Atom that may have clashed with his own designs on personal freedom.]

[And he just legged it?]

[That would be my guess. But without further information who knows?]

I put my chin in my hand. Tachi’s explanation made sense. But how did everything between Atom and PR get this south in barely two weeks?

I had no way of knowing. All I could do was log out of the deck. I had to take over Tachi’s stag in six hours. I needed sleep.

Then, finally, after nine days of sitting around, it finally went down.

An explosion that rattled the windows on the building next door had me scrambling up the ladder to the OP.

Tachi was already lying prone with the AR10 in his hands. I dropped down on the foam matt next to him and grabbed the binocs. We had to confirm this was it before going in. Yesterday we got cock-teased when an engine backfired in the compound’s auto shop.

[What do you see?]

[By the vegetable garden. Side blue.] Tachi replied.

I got the binocs on Tachi’s location and took a gander. A white dust cloud the size of a house covered part of the fence. Gunfire erupted from the school building and faint flashes replied from the cloud.

I zoomed in and saw the first soldiers step out of the dust. They wore black body-armour with enclosed helmets, but the insignia on the torso looked like the Security Solutions logo.

SS were a bush-league outfit with a history of racial abuse accusations levelled against it. They strode out of the dust and falling ash with a carbine in one hand and a transparent polymer riot shield in the other.

Not that it mattered. PR’s snipers had anti-material rifles. The head of the first soldier through the cloud disappeared in a bloody mist. The second one raised his shield up to his face only for the next round to punch straight through like it was tissue paper.

I tracked the binocs around and saw Goldenrod empty machine gun ammo into another SS soldier’s shield, walking the rounds down until he was putting them into the guy’s shins and he dropped amongst the corn crop.

[Aren’t you going?]

[At this rate the whole thing’ll be over by the time I reach the fence.]

Then the blast of a jet engine roared above us. I pulled my eyes out of the binocs and saw a sleek, black Sikorski swing-wing helijet swoop down over the compound. Unlike the boys on the ground, the helijet had the Night Watch logo on its underbelly.

The swing-wing eased back on the throttles and swung its wings up, switching from straight-line speed to VTOL. I zoomed in as the side-doors opened up and saw the door-gunner in his enclosed armour with the breathing hose. He was standing behind a General-Electric M134E Minigun and already had the barrels spinning.

A red-hot line spewed forth from its six barrels like a more literal definition of ‘fire hose’ and washed back and forth across the main school building. All of PR’s people on the roof, snipers and cyborgs alike dropped down with their hands over their heads. No-one dared get that firestorm’s attention.

While the door gunner was blowing his load I saw two large figures jump out the other side on zip-lines.

They were Mr. Olympia-sized silhouettes and from the cracks they made in the pavement when they hit, it was obvious they were augmented.

[That explains the suicide charge at the fence.] Tachi said. [While they’re too busy grinding up the meat, the real troops go in the back.]

[Any sign of RCF yet?]

[No. But that’s to be expected.]

[Alright.] I said, putting down the binocs and turning on my fatigues. [I better get down there. I’m not going to get a better distraction than that].
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