Dimestore Chapter 15 Part 3

From the onboard camera Penny saw an android driving a humanoid loading frame that had picked up one of its fellows in each claw, the droids it was holding were packing an assault rifle in each hand, making the loading frame into an improvised weapons platform. Behind the frame hid two more robots with extra rifles for the two shooters.

[To top it off Jaeger was the one carrying the anti-armour gear and he’s down.] Sergeant Mohammad pointed out at one of the prone constables in between the shed and the heavy vehicle.

Penny looked out at the clearing where the bodies lay, then up at the earth mover, then a final furtive glance towards the makeshift weapons platform.

[You got any flash bangs?]

[Won’t do you no good.] The sergeant replied. [We were using them to get across at the start, but they’re adapting. Now as soon as you toss one they open fire.]

Penny looked at him. [Reactive A.I. is restricted tech. You think Lin had the money to spring for that?]
[Before right now I’da said no, but there you are.]

[Give me a flash bang.] Penny said.

The sergeant slipped the last one he had from its pouch and handed it to her.

Penny tossed it out into the clearing. When it detonated with a blinding flash sure enough the loading frame turned towards the shed and opened fire.

Penny stepped back from the wall and pulled out her last smoke grenade. She looked at the sergeant. [Someone’s controlling it by remote. Watch this.]

When the loading frame ceased fire Penny hurled the grenade out so that the cloud covered as much of the gap as possible.

The droids in the box canyon had seen nothing on their pattern-recognition software and waited for a viable target to reveal itself. But the loading frame swung its arms back and forth and the droids in its claws opened fire. Sweeping bullets all through the cloud.

Sergeant Mohammed looked out at the rest of the refinery area. [There.] He indicated with a waypoint in his nanoputer. [Up the top there. That’s gotta be where the controller is at.]

Penny looked up and saw a tower set up at the highest point of the refinery, giving the occupant an unobstructed view of the area.

Penny watched the loading frame and waited for the right moment. When she saw the rifles in the droids’ hands run dry she bolted across the clearing at top speed.
The droids hurried to reload, but Penny covered the distance while they were still swapping barrels.

As the first stray rounds pinged harmlessly off metal and stone Penny reached the constables behind the earth mover. She brought up their names on her augmented reality display. [Patel] She said. [Toss a flash bang that way.] Penny pointed out past the earth mover. While Patel got her flash bang out Penny stuck her rifle to the magnetic sling on her back and scrambled up the ladder to the earth mover’s cabin.

To Penny’s pleasant surprise she not only found the vehicle still running, but the remains of the droid that had been piloting it lay slumped in the driver’s seat. A hole from a spear-shot straight through its torso and one severed arm told her it was harmless. The hole through its middle quietly dripped battery acid.

Penny grabbed the droid by the shoulders and jammed it up against the smeared window between her and the loading frame. [Everybody stay with the earth mover.] Penny broadcast to the whole team. [I’m going to get this thing moving.]

Penny parked herself in the seat and threw the heavy machine into reverse. While the constabulary with her hurried to stay behind their cover, Penny moved the machine back into the gap and parked it a good five metres down fire from Jaeger’s body.

The controller in the tower realised what Penny was up to and the loader turned its fire towards the cabin of the earth mover. Penny tensed up but held firm as the bullets shattered the plexiglass windows and thudded repeatedly against the body of the droid in the window.
Penny felt a few bullets punch all the way through and hit her armour.

She took a deep breath, held firm and then as soon as she was in place Penny pulled the handbrake and jumped back out.

Sergeant Mohammad saw his opportunity and dashed out into the clearing. He reached the poor departed Constable Jaeger and retrieved the anti-armour missile launcher before joining Penny and the others behind the earth mover.

[I need a clear shot.] The sergeant said.

[Pick a side.] Penny replied. [Someone toss a flash bang out either end on my mark.]

The constables at the far ends of the earth mover pulled their ordnance out.

[Mark.] Penny yelled.

The flash bangs were released and the sergeant moved around to the front end of the earth mover. Pausing only to wait for the flash to clear he stepped out the side, brought the missile launcher to his shoulder and fired.

The anti-armour missile shot out at the loading frame and hit dead centre, the warhead detonating on contact with the android controlling the frame. The blast disintegrated the robot pilot and blew the loading frame into a growing ball of flame and white-hot metal.

Sergeant Mohammad turned to his people. “Now that’s what I call rocket science.”
Penny jumped down from the earth-mover and patted him on the shoulder. “Of course dear. Now let’s get up to that control tower.”

One of the constables threw a waypoint up at the tower. [There he is. He’s getting away.]

The constable bolted after the figure and Penny broke into a charge to keep up, the rest of the constabulary double-timed behind them.

As Penny sprinted towards the tower she saw Lin scramble down the ladder and dash through a tunnel in the far wall. Penny poured on the speed, easily over-taking the constable and reaching the tunnel first. Penny stopped at the edge, took a breath to steady herself and carefully circled around the corner with her rifle up.

When she could see down the corridor she could clearly make out Lin’s retreating form.

Penny resisted the unpolicewoman-like urge to shoot him in the back and took off after him.
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