Dust: Chapter 08 Part 2

Ice Phoenix reared back her head for another blast. Kitty summoned another wall and took the time to delete her old ones to save memory.

As the snow crashed into her wall Stoundheart was upon her again. The elf warrior dashed at her, his sword out at hip height and with a mighty swing he sought to rend fair Kitty in twain. Kitty threw herself into a back-bridge, folding in half to grab the ground behind her heels with her hands. As Stoundheart’s magic sword missed her torso by centimetres, Kitty kicked up with her legs and turned back onto her feet again.

Kitty dematerialised her old staff and summoned a new one. While it was still forming in her hands she was forced to block Eldwin’s blade again. Kitty backed off a step and remained on the defensive, her skill package keeping up with Eldwin’s.

Kitty risked a glance away from him and saw Ice Phoenix hovering nearby.

[Funny.] I said. [Why doesn’t she attack?]

[Because Stoundheart would get caught in the blast. Noodles can’t afford the time it would take to reload a proxy A.I of his sophistication.]

[So while you’re stalemated against him, what’s Noodles up to?]

[Stalemated?] Kitty exclaimed. [Watch this!]

Interrupting her flurry of blocks Kitty lunged at Stoundheart with her staff. Like a pro he bashed the pole away with his shield. Kitty twisted her wrist and the last third of the staff detached on the end of a length of chain and swung back at Eldwin like it had a will of its own.

Caught by surprise Stoundheart barely had the time to even raise his shield the extra few inches he needed to block this new strike. Kitty redoubled her offensive, for every strike she initiated the flailing staff-end added two of its own. Kitty varied her attacks, striking high then low to keep Stoundheart off guard.

Unbeknownst to Stoundheart, the rear third of Kitty’s staff had detached as well and was snaking its way behind Kitty’s back on an ever-increasing length of chain. When she’d uncoiled enough slack, Kitty struck low with the front end and brought the rear down at Stoundheart’s head like a scorpion. Stoundheart blocked low on the first strike, getting ready to deflect the next two low strikes when the high strike not only connected square with his face, but threw him off enough for the next two low-strikes to connect as well.

Kitty spun the staff overhead and it snapped back into the one long pole again. She swung at Stoundheart’s side and he blocked with his sword, only for the last third to detach and carry on the momentum into his arm.

That last hit ended it. Kitty uploaded her ‘Something with numbers’ virus through her staff. Stoundheart reeled as random numbers appeared sporadically in his code, in an instant his right eye and left leg both stupendously enlarged as an extra digit was added to their size, his tunic changed colour and his sword fighting skill package became a garbled, confused mess. With a strangled moan Stoundheart slumped to the floor and began to twitch. When he noticed that his combat stand-in was down Noodles dematerialised him.

Ready for Ice Phoenix’s next blast Kitty automatically flipped away. When no blast came Kitty glanced around to find her.

In the time Kitty had been occupied fighting Stoundheart, Noodles had constructed an arena out of massive blocks of virtual ice. Two enormous semi-circular walls contained them, capped by a thick sheet on top. The endless blue beyond the walls made it hard to tell if they were semi-transparent.

Kitty snorted. [Noodles should know a cat doesn’t like to be boxed in.]

Kitty swapped out her staff for a hand-cannon the size of a microwave oven. Its virtual weight clearly didn’t match its mass as Kitty toted it as easily as a hair-dryer.

Kitty aimed that monstrosity at the nearest of the two semi-circular walls and let rip. A stream of white-hot lead emitted from the barrel, followed by the sound like a 747 taking off.

The almighty blast impacted hard with the frozen wall, erupting in a thick cloud of black smoke that obscured the result.

Kitty was already swearing under her breath before the smoke had even begun to clear.

[You know, if you were a man, I’d swear you were compensating for something.]

Kitty didn’t need the smoke to clear to tell her the result. If that shot had performed as intended the whole wall would be gone.

The high-pitched sound of a mortar shell bearing down on us announced Noodles’ next attack. Kitty returned to the air in the next instant, as the impact from the mortar’s explosion threw up a massive cloud of dust.

While rotating 720° degrees Kitty fiddled with some settings on the side of her massive gun. She stuck the landing perfectly, her stiletto heels skidding across the ground as she continued to slide afterwards. Kitty levelled her cannon at the wall again and pulled the trigger.

This time the blast also increased the speed of her slide.

Beneath the showy explosion of black smoke the massive semi-circular wall dematerialised.

Revealing dozens, if not hundreds of smaller bricks stacked behind it.

[Yeah]. Kitty sighed [We’re boxed in. Crap.]

The bird and the elf weren’t Noodles’ only proxies, he also had an often-overlooked little droid he’d named Build-E, whose sole purpose was to make structures out of virtual walls and hide them on the domain’s server rather than keep them on his own hard drive. Kitty’s first shot hadn’t worked because it was looking in the wrong place.

Another mortar round destroyed the last of the obstacles Kitty had thrown up and suddenly a hail of glowing purple bolts tore through the smoke. Kitty took one in the shoulder before her staff fully materialised and she was able to deflect any others that came her way.

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