Dust: Chapter 18 Part 2

A deep, metallic crash split the air, silencing all other sounds. The Texan’s head snapped back like a wrecking ball just nailed him with an uppercut. While Kiru threw her hands up and gracefully rode the ignition in a wide arc away from her opponent and around onto her hands and feet again.

Sonuva slant-eyed whore.” The damaged Texan swore. Because someone hadn’t quite got his fill from the racist barrel yet.

He reached up to his face, even with his fat, metal sausage fingers in the way I could see that his cybervisor had been obliterated. He held his fingers out in front of him, like he was having difficulty focusing even on something barely six inches away.

Kiru stood back up again and took this opportunity to blow him a kiss.

Evidently he could see well enough to work out what that sound meant. After that all he could see was red.

And after that he got another extreme close-up of Kiru’s foot.

That next kick must have finished what the piston-heel started. As the Texan’s head snapped back I saw small shards of Plexiglas fly off his face. He stumbled back a step, slipped and all 180-odd kilos of him hit the ground with a rumbling thud.

Robbed of his sight, he grasped uselessly at the air. His instruments must have told him he was lying down as he knew well enough to sit up again. But by that time Kiru had made her leisurely way around behind him and drew one of her lines across his throat, a sharp knee to the back of his neck pitched him forward and through the wire. Kiru’s arms tensed for a moment as the line met resistance and in the next second it was done. The big cyborg’s head fell from his shoulders and bounced across the floor.

Kiru stepped away from the body and an open messages flashed in my vision. It was broadcasting on all Bluetooth, wireless and software radio frequencies. [All right. Ah know Ah’ve said some things Ah may be about to regret, but Ah know when Ah’ve been beat. Ah’mma gonna lie down now. You want to end me and save me the trouble of worrying, be my guest. Otherwise Ah’m just gonna wait for my Evac beacon to send a recovery team out. You do what you like.]

If Kiru got that message, she didn’t show it. She’d already got a head start on ignoring the now slightly smaller Texan.

She scanned her visor across the empty spaces and the shadows in the room. “Dustoh-san” she said, actually referring to me by name. “<Where is my sister?>”

I may have shit myself right about there.

I got my cype open quick smart. [Tachi, where are you? I need help.]

[I’m tailing Kitty. What’s wrong?]

I groaned inwardly. I had the god-damned superhero dilemma on my hands now. Only I was Lois Lane.

[Don’t worry, keep on her. I’ll try and sneak away.]

I slowly moved behind an outlying server tower, one that was, miraculously, still in good enough condition to conceal me.

Kiru smirked like a schoolgirl who’s trying not to think of her crush. “Come out, come out, wherever you are?” She purred in English. It was clear she wasn’t fluent, I’ve heard Stephen Hawking’s voices with a better understanding of tone and emphasis, but somehow that only made it more menacing.

I heard Kiru’s footsteps as she began to move around the room. Deliberately tapping her heels to give her footfalls a distinct ‘clack’ sound.

I stayed low and tried to silently creep towards the next tower, it sounded like she was moving away from the door.

The back of my mind got started on the rear echelon thinking. I had no weapon, no immediate means through which I could hurt her, no right fucking arm for Christ’s sake. What the fuck was I going to do?

I peeked one eye around the corner of my tower. I saw nothing but a row of sever towers and some shattered remains, I began to creep to the next tower.

Then a vidwindow pinged into existence in front of me. Displaying only an arrow pointing upwards.

Dreadfully, I craned my head back to look at the top of the towers.

For a moment I thought Kiru’s head had detached and was floating above me. Until I realised she was wearing the same digital camouflage I was, she just hadn’t pulled up her hood. Kiru beamed like the Cheshire Cat and brought her fingers together. The gloves on her fatigues were fingerless, allowing her full use of her signature weapons.

[Tachi. I changed my mind get your arse to the server room in the head office.]

<It is you. Isn’t it Dust?>” She asked.

I nodded.

Kiru leaned her head to one side. “<How can I be sure?>” She teased. “<Where are your fancy toys and your trademark quips?>”

Kiru hopped off the tower and landed with her face right up against mine. “<Could it be?>” She whispered. “<Have I finally met you stripped of all your tricks and sarcasm?>”

I stood up and stepped away from her. Borrowing the Texan’s tactic to make contact I opened up my cype and sent my message out on all available frequencies.

With a confidence I didn’t feel I said. [<Actually I’m only quiet because your boy did a number on my jaw… again. But try not to get too cocky, it didn’t take any toys or tricks to beat Crocman.>]

Kiru made it obvious she was suppressing a laugh. “<Listen to your own advice, Lefty.>”

I shrugged at her.

Kiru smiled some more. “<Still cocky then? Good. It will make the look on your face all the sweeter, when I do this>.”

I saw the options menu for my pain editing software open in my vision without my instruction. Before I realised what was happening it turned itself off before erasing the drivers for its hardware in my Neupro’s configuration.

And in an instant everything caught up with me.

The tortured groan that escaped my broken jaw could have made a self-immolation suicide think they’d taken the easy way out. I collapsed in a writhing heap. The pain in my face, my shoulder and everything from a thousand tiny aches and pains I couldn’t even remember ran riot through my mind like irate Canadians after an ice hockey game.

Kiru burst out laughing. Not your clichéd wicked witch cackle, drinking in the cruel agony of my pain, this was the kind of spontaneous, full-bellied laugh that’s normally accompanied by a pointing finger.

<Do you like it? I had some boys back home whip it up for me. I knew you had to be using some kind of pain redirection hardware, otherwise you couldn’t possibly have lasted this long in your condition.>”

Kiru walked around to my side and knelt down beside me. She grabbed me by the fabric of my hood, forcing me to look her in the visor while she gloated. “<One of my boys tracked down the hardware you were using, something about your time in the army and what model they’d have used back then. I really didn’t think you’d just hand me the chance to use it like that. I thought I was going to have to kill you.>”
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