Dust: Chapter 04 Part 3

My pain editor kept the worst of it from me, but I could still feel my chest tightening around my ribs. My body had enough, but I fought to keep going, looking for an appropriate place to catch my breath. Finally I settled for sneaking under a tradesman’s van with a high wheel base.

It was parked right next to an obnoxiously lowered sports car, complete with that tacky holographic paint that changes colour depending on the angle you look at it. I hoped the car would draw attention away from the beaten-up, off-white van next door.

I gasped for air, inhaling the smell of energy cells and warm plastics beneath the engine. But concealing myself from sight wasn’t going to achieve a lot if Crocman could still hear me panting like a smoker on a hot date.

The sound of metal and plastic scraping on concrete reached my ears and I froze. Suddenly stilling my breath became a lot easier. The scraping sound paused for a moment. I tried to quietly manoeuvre myself underneath the van so that I could see. If I’d been smart I would have crawled under the van on my belly and faced out the back. With some craning I found I could see a single foot that I guessed belonged to Crocman, the tattered remnants of an expensive leather shoe hanging loosely from a prosthetic foot was hard to mistake.

Then the sound of fleshy feet wearing boots joined in.

All right hold it.One of the cops yelled.

I was officially not going to get a better distraction then that. Slowly and gently I started crawling out from under the van.

Down on the ground NOW!The other cop cop yelled.

Then I felt a firm, titanium grip wrap around my ankle.

Oh Shit.” I said.

The next moment I was looking up into Crocman’s monovisor. The dull ache on my back told me my pain editor was concealing a new abrasion that likely covered most of my back and that most of my back likely covered the concrete under the van.

Hey Arsehole!the first Cop yelled as they moved closer.I’m not in the mood to play around. Down on the floor or I’ll drop the pair of you.

<You shitty little pests.>Crocman grunted in Japanese.

Crocman let go of me and rushed the closer of the two cops. The guy squeezed off a round that caught Crockie square in centre mass. Without even a flinch Crocman swept his hand in front of the cop’s face and then turned to face his partner. The second cop shot Croman twice to the same effect before Crocman rushed at him.

The first cop turned to keep Crocman on target, took a breath to steady his aim and died. His head falling clean from his shoulders.

The second cop hammered at the trigger, emptying as many rounds into Crocman as he could fit in before Crocman closed the gap. The sixth round caused Crockie to grimace for a moment.

Crocman took one step passed the cop and swept his hand down in a vertical arc. Both of the cop’s hands, still wrapped around the pistol, fell to the ground. A moment passed while the horror set in and then the cop began to scream. Thankfully he passed out from the shock, though whether it was the medical or emotional definition that struck first I couldn’t tell.

An instant later, the first cop’s body hit the ground as well.

In the time it took for Crocman to murder those two elite policemen I had managed to pull myself upright again and lean against the van.

Now I was screwed. A monofilament whip built into a cyberfinger is a celebrated weapon in Yakuza circles. It basically consists of a spool of diamond-hard carbon fibre installed in the prosthetic’s palm, the fibre is barely one molecule thick, weighted at one end by the detachable fingertip and extends out to about a metre. In the hands of a skilled user that single strand of carbon could slice through any plastic or organic material. An expert can add most metals to that list as well.

Crocman turned away from his handiwork and bore his hateful gaze into me.

Where is bag?Crocman roared at me.

I forced myself to remain calm. The words of my old Lieutenant whispered in the back of my brain. Only the insane may prosper, only those who prosper may judge what is sane.

I shrugged, at worst I’d be dead within the minute.

I brandished my knife and went back into my fighting stance. This, surprisingly, actually pissed him off more. He closed the distance between us in three steps, raising his hand for another swing.

I held my dodge for as long as I thought reasonable, then ducked as the razor-sharp wire sung through the air where my neck had been an instant ago. As he continued his swing I shot forward, got my hips under his and lifted him off the ground before dropping him on his face.

I got on top of him, pinning one of his arms with my knee while I went for the hand with the monowhip. I plunged my knife into his wrist and wriggled the blade around. I felt a few wires snip under the pressure, then pulled the knife out to have a go at the fingers. As soon as I took the pressure off, Crocman turned the tables on me. Despite the weight I was putting on his other hand Crocman actually sat up and tipped me onto my back. I rolled with the momentum and escaped his grasp, but slipped on my own feet and crashed down into the space between the van and the sports car.

Crocman dashed towards me and lashed out with a soccer kick to my legs, which I raised defensively and took the impact. My leg felt like it’d been smacked with a cricket bat and I pushed away from Crocman as he recoiled the leg and lashed out again, smashing a dent into the side of the van.

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