Dust: Chapter 04 Part 4

I crawled on my back until I reached the wall and edged my way up it to get back onto my feet. Crocman vaulted across the gap, one hand on the car, one on the van and covered the length of the parking space before I was back upright. He kicked out when he neared me, when I pushed his foot down he got them under him and followed up with a high feint and a punch to the gut. I heaved as the air was forced out of my lungs like a kid sitting on a whoopie cushion and fell into a clinch. I plunged my knife into his neck but he replied with a knee to my gut, which forced the knife out through the front.

It wasn’t lethal for a cyborg. His air pump just revved up higher to compensate. I however, was still breathless. Crocman turned my knife aside and stepped in to get my back. His unyielding, prosthetic arms coiled around my neck.

Instinctively I moved to try to prevent him from closing me into a choke, but that was not his plan. He reached across my throat and undid the tip of his monofinger.

My eyes flew wide and I immediately brought up my knife-hand. By pure luck I caught him right in the cybervisor and plunged the length of my blade into his skull. Another horrific, but futile wound inflicted. At least the violent shock and the loss of depth perception loosened his grip enough for me to try wriggling out. He pushed my face down into the concrete, sandwiching my skull between a concrete slab and his steel-reinforced fist for a moment.

My brain ricochet around inside my skull a few times. I tasted exhaust and blood.

In the cramped space Crocman somehow managed to turn me onto my back. I got my head to stop swimming in its own juices and brought up my arms to defend it. So Crocman punched me in the gut to open me up.

While I sucked a mouthful of air into my vacated lungs Crocman raised his prosthetic fist again and brought it down on my face. My pain editor maxed out for a second, I could feel the fractures splitting across my jaw bone. He pulled his hand back and I saw my own blood on his knuckles before he brought it down again. A wet crack reached my ears as my jaw snapped like a disposable chop stick. Plastic surgery was the least of my concerns now.

In the next moment Crocman cocked his fist back again for his next hit, the one that would cave in my skull. With a clarity only combat experience and a pain editor could provide I waited until his fist was pulled back to its apex before making my move.

I pulled my hips out from under him and slipped out of his mount like a worm sliding between a toddler’s fingers.

Crocman’s fist thumped into the sports car’s passenger door and put a dent in it that rivalled the chrome rims for size. He tried to correct his position above me to regain his mount. I wrapped one arm around his neck and pushed up with my hips, catching him just as his balance was uneven and tipped him over onto the concrete.

Crocman put a hand on my chest and pushed himself out of my grip with sheer brute force. I grabbed his arm for leverage and tried to put myself in mount on him.

As we wrestled I noticed the tip of Crocman’s head disappear under the car’s ridiculously low-slung body, there was barely enough room for his head to fit underneath it.

Crocman copied my own tactic and pushed up with his hips, slamming my face into the dent in the and slipping his head further under the car until the handle of my knife caught against the skirting and stopped him.

His damaged foot also slipped on the concrete, allowing me to gain mount when his hips hit the ground again.

I seized upon the one idea I could think of, grabbed hold of my knife and yanked it out.

Crocman grabbed my wrist as I tried to bring it down onto him. His fingers closed tight around my arm and I was helpless to stop him to turning the blade away. To his surprise I actually pushed with him, until I was burying the point into the back of the car’s tire.

The loss of air pressure dropped the car the extra two inches I needed, dropping the car’s considerable mass onto his forehead. I heard a metallic crack as the skull integrity compromised and the weight trapped Crocman’s head under the car.

He wasn’t dead, the repeated grabs for my throat made that clear. I disentangled myself from Crocman, batting aside his hands and sacrificing fist-fulls of my shirt.

I didn’t like the idea of leaving him alive, but my experience with Tachi’s prosthetics told me I didn’t have time to carve out his brain case before any more cops showed up.

My pain editor noticed that my adrenaline levels were dropping and urged me to seek medical attention. I couldn’t even remember getting half of those wounds, so I kept going.

I checked under the van and found Atom’s bag right where I left it. I opened it up and found Atom’s braincase, minus my accessories inside. Poor little guy was going to have a rude shock when he came back online and saw me again.

As I raised myself up I felt the world slide under me for half a second. Someone screamed, which brought the world back into focus. A middle aged woman had strolled out to the carpark, she had two little kids in toe, a six year old boy and his little sister. They’d found the headless and handless policemen. Their attention turned to me when I bolted upright between the two cars. She took one look at what was left of my face, screamed again and fled, abandoning the shopping trolley to pluck the kids off the ground and run.

I stumbled towards the fire exit. My cype beeped and Tachi’s vidwindow appeared before me. [Alright Dust, I made it to central. Where do I go from here?]

I dunno.I actually said the words aloud, slurred them to be exact.

Tachi’s voice became very serious.

[Where are you?] He demanded.

[I’m in a car park… somewhere in St. Petersburg.] I said as I pushed open the exit and took my first clumsy step out into the street.

[I’m going to assume you mean St. Peters.]

[That’s the one.]

The alley outside was where the building next door kept its bins, but there was access to the main road from here. I stumbled in that direction.

[Dust, what happened? You sound terrible.]

[One of your buys… dumped me.] I mumbled.

[Stay with me Dust. Keep talking. I’m on my way to the platform for St. Peters now I’ll be there as soon as I can. What street are you on?

[That’s what I’m trying to… do.]

[Hang on Dust!]

That was when I passed out.

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