Dust: Chapter 17 Part 2

I hesitated for just a second in case he wasn’t dead and then legged it for the main building.

[No can do with the Gymnasium.] I told Tachi. [It’s guarded, there’s probably more inside.]

[Bugger all.] Tachi growled. [I’m still in transit to my next position. Can you hold a moment?]

I kept sprinting. [No.]

Tachi growled again. [I’ll move as quick as I can, try not to get shot.]

I smirked [Don’t you know I’m old enough to make my own decisions about getting shot?]

[Now?] Tachi asked. [Really?]

I bumped myself into the wall of the main school building and hid under a windowsill while my fatigues changed. I could see the devastation of the courtyard from my position. Bullet holes peppered the walls and doors everywhere, the crater from the LAW impact was still smoking and the remains of two Deadmen I didn’t recognise lay in pieces on the asphalt.

Carefully I raised my PD9 to peek over the windowsill and took a look inside with my Smartgun camera. The feed in the corner of my vision showed me the classroom was vacant. Unable to climb up with one hand I holstered my weapon, gave myself a run-up, then jumped, stepped up the wall and scrambled my way inside through the broken glass. Grateful again for the joint-padding and rip-proof polymer my fatigues were made off.

My landing inside was less than graceful and I hit the debris covered carpet in a clumsy shoulder-roll. I picked myself up off the ground and pulled my SMG from my hip. A quick sweep and I confirmed that no-one was inside. The sound of distant gunfire told me the action was elsewhere.

I jumped back on the cype [Tachi. I’m going to need backup. Can you catch up with me on the way to the office?]

[Not straight away.] Tachi replied. [I don’t have a covered approach to the main building from where I am. I’ll need to circle around.]

Damn it.” I muttered aloud. I hid behind a doorway just in case someone walked in on me.

I didn’t like the idea of wandering the halls without someone to watch my back, but Night Watch’s Rangers were tearing their way through PR’s defences. If I didn’t get over there lickedy-split, they might recover Atom before I could.

[I’m heading in.] I told Tachi.

[I’ll catch up with you when I can.]

I crept silently through the corridors, moving from cover to cover and pausing to let my fatigues change patterns, following the sounds of gunfire.

The louder the shots got the more the corridors were awash with blood and hot brass. The two cybergods had blasted their way through several barricaded corridors. Leaving only bullet-ridden desks and casualties in their wake.

I had to duck into adjoining classrooms to remain hidden from PR’s people as they brought their comrades out on stretchers. The clearly dead they left where they lay. But the yelling and crying living were hurried out. The closer I got to the shooting the louder the screaming became as well.

The shooting got to its loudest by the time I reached the utility corridor.

PR’s OK Corral was another barricade of teacher’s desks and lockers stuffed with debris. Four Deadmen: Goldenrod, Skullface, Helmet-head and No Mouth, lay face-down on the other side. Suggesting this obstacle has slowed Night Watch down as much as the half-dozen before it.

Four-Arms and the Machine-gunner strode brazenly out into roaring gunfire and shot back. The last of PR’s human defenders died when two bursts from Four-arms’ SMGs opened up his skull and splashed the contents on the floor.

Fall Back.” PR yelled, pushing Kitty behind Faceless, his last remaining Deadman and into one of the adjoining rooms. Faceless raised a drum-fed assault rifle in each hand and opened up with them at Four-Arms. Who casually took the incoming barrage, even as it shredded armour from his body, and pulled two grenades from behind his back.

The barrels of Faceless’ rifles glowed cherry red as they exhausted their ammunition and fell silent. Four-arms pegged the grenades at the open door PR has disappeared into.

However much PR was paying his Deadmen, it wasn’t nearly enough. Faceless anticipated the direction the grenades were being thrown and immediately spun to shut the door and dived onto them before they detonated.

Even safely behind a corner on the far side of the shattered barricade, the shock wave from the twin explosions under Faceless’ body made me shudder. Night Watch’s Rangers walked right over the barricade and started forming up on the closed door, stepping over the bodies of the other four Deadmen they’d vanquished.

Until I heard Goldenrod shout “Now!”

Goldenrod and the boys leapt up from the debris-strewn floor and reached out at the Rangers. Clever. If I’d been wearing a hat, I’d take it off to them.

Four-arms desperately brought his guns to bear as Skullface rushed him, he managed to score a torso hit with one burst before his opponent grabbed the SMG and tore the barrel and fore-end out of the action.

Four-arms responded by throwing the gun in the opposite hand at Skullface’s head, then when SF instinctively brought up both hands to defend himself, Four’s two empty hands grabbed his wrists and held them in place while he jammed his two lower arms into his victim’s waist and unloaded his SMGs.

That much ammo concentrated into the same two-inch space could dig a hole through a house brick.

A basic combat-chassis, modified with a few layers of spectra-fibre between the casing and the frame did just as well. The last rounds glided easily through the gap in the bodywork and into the biopod, shattering the pod and turning the contents into soup. Four-arms stepped away from his handiwork and Skullface toppled back like the loser in a game of ‘trust fall’.

On the other side the Machine-gunner had been grabbed both in front and back. No Mouth, the guy behind struggled to try and get his arms hooked under his opponent’s armpits, while Helmet Head tried to yank the machine-gun out of his grasp. The machine-gunner tried to smack Helmet Head in the face with the stock a few times before he gave up and push-kicked him back a step, abandoning his hold on the machine-gun so he could draw his monofilament blade and stick it into No Mouth’s rib-section.

No Mouth panicked when the blade slipped effortlessly into his chassis and abandoned his hold, the blade cleaving through his armour and casing as he pulled away.
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