Dust: Chapter 22 Part 2

Up ahead Atom ran out of zigs to zag and charged into someone’s house. From the shouting inside he’d obviously met some resistance but after another second he found the back door and kept going.

The Merc followed Atom inside and before the hooting and hollering could start back up he smashed straight through the thin wood planks and carried on.

Knowing that if I followed him the residents would probably have had enough by then I looked for an alternative. And found one. As I closed with the house I ran at the outdoor furniture, jumped up on the table and used that as a stepping stone to get up onto the lean-to shed beside the house and from there up onto the roof.

I had a half-second to judge whether the next door neighbours were within jumping distance and risked it anyway.

I almost made it. My hands grabbed hold of the roof as my body collided with the wall. Out of sheer will and adrenaline I pulled myself up and got back in the chase.

Fortunately, the pallet towners didn’t believe in backyards, so their homes were fairly close together and now that I was up top I had more time to judge my jumps with a proper run-up behind me.

I started gaining ground again, but by then we were running out of pallet town.

Atom hit the chain-link fence that separated the tennis courts from the gardens first and went straight up it. Between the light weight of Tachi’s body and its cyborg strength he didn’t even need to use his legs. With each handful of steel wire Atom pulled himself up another metre, scrambling up and over at a speed that would make Spiderman proud.

The merc holstered his SMG and pulled out his monomachette, breaking his stride for only a few seconds the merc swung at the fence twice and dived through the big X-shaped hole he’d made.

I was lucky that the pallet houses stretch all the way to the fence and made my longest jump to clear it. What I hadn’t counted on was jumping right over the sand pits on the other side.

When it was clear gravity had me in its unyielding pull I looked down to check my landing and saw the most adorable pair of baby Negrasian eyes staring up at me in horror. My shadow falling across to blot the sun out of their world.

Oh Shiiiiiiitt”

Then a grey metallic hand shot out of nowhere and changed my course. I flopped down hard onto the tightly-packed sand and prayed no-one was using it as a dog-stop.

A string of harsh Cantonese curses, mangled as they were by a Floridian accent, assaulted me as I tried to crawl out of the sand and right myself again.

<The Hell is wrong with you?>” The courageous parent screamed at me. I was most of the way to my feet when she stepped up and shoved me back into the sand. “<You almost crushed my babies you damn maniac.>” Then without thinking she slipped back into English. “And what you doing flying through the air like you was wearing a cape for?”

I silenced her with a gesture, the Tri-star in that hand helped a bit and she backed off. I got back up again, shrugged a “Sorry” and went back to chasing Atom.

The gardens had to be the best maintained area in all of Rapture, for out of the entire artificial island, this was the one place no-one was interested in repurposing for something else. I found out later the Bō shì‘s preferred to grow their weed in hydroponics labs.

The gardens were more like public parks, kinda sterile by landlubber standards, but it looked like too many people enjoyed it to let it fall into disrepair. By now Atom was halfway through it, while the Merc was closing in. I got the lead out.

I’d barely made it fifty metres in when the first bullets started cracking passed me. I dived towards the nearest park bench and started crawling the rest of the way. All around me Rapture civilians screamed and hit the ground.

The Merc hadn’t been shooting at me and Atom was yet to even touch a weapon. I peeked my head up a little and looked around to see where all the fucking bullets were coming from.

I saw them behind me. Armed residents of pallet town had reached the chain link fence and opened fire. Their aim was well off, most of them were shooting with one-hand and I doubted any of them had Smartlink cyberware. With a handgun, hitting a man sized target standing still at fifty metres was an achievement, those guys and girls had no chance.

It got worse when the armed citizens in the park got their guns out and started shooting back. They hadn’t seen the three sprinting blokes the Pallet towners had, all they saw were people lined up to open fire into a crowd.

The return fire scared off some of the Pallet towners, the especially thick ones took a knee, reloaded and shot back.

Lying on my belly I brought up my revolver. Resting the barrel on my other arm I put my crosshairs on Tachi’s back and pulled the trigger. The sabotted slug spun through the rifled 10 inch barrel and stayed true. A hundred metres down, Atom stumbled a step and but quickly righted himself to keep going.

Obviously I’d missed the biopod.

[Dust!] Moe-moe called [Dust are you there?]

The merc realised I’d taken my shot and spun around to burn another magazine my way. I don’t think he could actually tell me apart from everyone else lying belly-down on the grass. As his ammo flew wild.

[What is it Moe-Moe?]

[I know where Atom’s going. A private boat was chartered from Hong Kong, only one person came ashore and then the boat left again, this was just before Atom contacted Sinotech.]

[That’s pretty loose Moe-moe. Is that really all we’ve got to go on?]

[Well it can’t be a coincidence that the boat in question is currently heading up the canal that runs between Rapture and the Old Rig, the bridge over which is currently fifty metres to the Port side of your position.]
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