Dust: Chapter 23 Part 1

Chapter 23: Showdown


Yeah turns out it didn’t work.

You thought it was one of those one-in-a-million chance thingies didn’t you?

Nope.

I got hold of the rope alright, but it turns out it wasn’t actually anchored to anything. So I basically fell into the ocean holding a line. For good measure I even bounced off the hull before splashing into the water.

A loud crash assaulted my ears and the water enveloped me. Almost immediately I began to sink into the cold as the dark mass of the hull passed overhead.

Then suddenly I was sideways getting dragged towards the surface. The line had caught on something. I had a microsecond’s horror as I thought it might be the propeller before I broke through to the air above. I gasped a breath and copped a mouthful of white water. The salt-spray slapped me in the face over and over as the sound of rushing air filled my ears.

I pulled my head up, reducing the spray catching in my eyes by maybe 10%, but I still managed to see that my line had caught far out to the port side of the boat, so I was always out on the edge where the waves created by the boat were at their worst.

I desperation I pulled myself into a ball and hung on. Clamping my new cyberarm tight around the line and locking it closed. Balling up was a horrible idea as I was now basically the sinker on a fishing line, bouncing up and down with the waves. When that clearly wasn’t getting me anywhere I tried the opposite and stretched out as long as I could. That helped, until a big wave dragged me under the surface again and I got another mouthful of saltwater.

When I broke the surface again I spat it out and did my best to take on air. Panicking, I pushed down with my legs and somehow managed to stand up. I leaned back and pushed my feet out like I’d seen water-skiers do and by some miracle I stayed upright.

I hadn’t thought that possible, what with the lack of calm water (and you know, Skis), but so far so good. Reaching out with my other hand I pulled myself further down the line, holding tight before I dared open up my chrome hand and try the same thing.
Just as I managed that a large wave broke underneath me and I lost my footing with one leg.
So now I was hanging on with one arm, while the other arm went flailing, and one leg hung out to the side as I was pulled out of vertical.
I’m sure it looked like I was enjoying this.
I grabbed the line with my other arm and got myself righted again. This time I kept my eyes on the waves and timed my pulls for when things weren’t so choppy. Foot by foot, hand by hand I caught up with the boat and found a safety ladder on its side. I was a pleasure craft after all so a swimmer would need something to get back out of the ocean with.
With one last heave the drowned rat in combat boots pulled himself off the ladder and flopped down messily. My clothes had absorbed a lot of water and it flowed out of my pockets and onto the deck.
As a reward for not drowning I let myself have a couple of seconds to just lie there.

A short way away, on the upper decks I heard the sound of gunfire. I tried to ignore it.
The sound did not go away. If it did I’d have an enemy that was now ready for the next fight. I knew I had to get moving.
I felt my soaked body turn over and push up to a standing position. As my feet took turns to propel me towards the upper decks I opened the cylinder on my Tri-Star and replaced its spent rounds.
When I’d reached the ladder I paused. The thought occurred to me that my PD9’s higher ammo capacity would be more useful than the Tri-star’s stopping power in the coming fight.
Also, so far I’d barely been able to hit anything with it yet.

The gunfire grew louder and more frequent the higher up the ladder I got. When I reached the top and climbed over I could see the main deck just around the corner. The main deck took up most of the boat and was a largely flat space of polished hardwood between the bridge sitting atop the kitchen/bar and the observation deck on the raised bow. The space between was made to be versatile, allowing an area for dinner guests to mingle or a tennis court to be erected on removable posts or panels could open up and reveal the swimming pool underneath.
Right now the remains of Atom’s box rig took up most of the space. Being made of cardboard boxes it was destroyed long before I arrived. Torn scraps of brown littered the deck everywhere and were blown randomly about with every gust of wind.

I manoeuvred around the corner, my PD9 raised to my shoulder. Across the deck from me I saw Kiru twirl both hands to either side of the Merc, slicing into his SMG on one side and the arm holding his monomachette on the other. The Merc abandoned his hold on the gun, but the strings coiling around his forearm weren’t so easy to get rid of.
When they’d pulled tight, Kiru yank back hard, pulling him forward a step and right into her grasp.
Kiru stepped in to meet him halfway and reaped him off his feet. A moment after he hit the ground she jammed her knee into his throat and pulled her strings back, slicing the hand holding the monoblade clean off.
Kiru then looked up at me just as I was about to hit the trigger. I yanked back the finger and the PD9 began to kick. Kiru uncoiled her legs and cartwheeled away from me. My first bullet catching her where her floating ribs would be on a mortal, the next few rounds tore holes in her jacket but nothing more. Still shooting, I walked the fire after Kiru, who kept wheeling away from me.

I broke into a run after her, firing tight bursts from my shoulder as I went. Until Kiru cartwheeled right off the side of the boat.
I stood stunned for a moment. “Well that problem just solved itself.”
I remembered the Merc and glanced where he’d been lying. He sat up, looked right at me, gasped and reached for the pistol on his hip.
I got my PD9 around and put his torso firmly in my crosshairs.
That was when he realised the hand reaching for his pistol wasn’t attached anymore. I pulled the trigger. And heard nothing but an empty click in response.
That couldn’t have been right, the PD9’s cylinder mag held at least 100-rounds.
I hit the trigger again just in case, but nothing happened.
Before the Merc got wise I grabbed the cocking handle and cycled the action. Then I saw what I should have seen five seconds ago. I hadn’t had a stoppage, there was just a dirty, great big dent in the mag.
Oh yeah, I’d only reloaded the Tri-star. Well done Idiot.
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