Dust: Chapter 08 Part 3

From beyond the cloud we heard Ice Phoenix give a different kind of cry. Kitty shot the staff into the ground again and took to the air, launching herself diagonally away from her previous spot.

Then we worked out what that new scream meant, above the cloud we saw Ice Phoenix beat her wings and suddenly an artificial wind kicked up within the arena. The wind caught Kitty while she was in the air and hurled her around the room like a dented squash ball. Kitty bounced hard off the wall two or three times, grateful for the lack of pain sensors in the digital world.

Kitty abandoned her grip on her staff and it dematerialised. Instead she ran an app called Sticky Fingers and used them to grab onto the wall on her next bounce and affix herself in place.

That was when she saw Noodles, standing comfortably underneath Ice Phoenix in the eye of the storm she made with her wings. Noodles raised his crossbow and unloaded bolt after bolt at her, signalling for the wind to stop after he began to fire. The wind threw the first couple of bolts off target, but once it died down the rest were coming straight at Kitty.

Kitty disengaged her Sticky Fingers and let herself drop to the ground. Only for Noodles to signal for the winds to pick up again.

Again Kitty was dashed against the wall, she grabbed hold with her Sticky Fingers and hung on.

Noodles saw Kitty anchor herself in place and raised his crossbow again, aiming off into the wind he squeezed off another barrage of bolts.

The wind messed with their trajectory, but Noodles compensated and the bolts impacted hard with the wall beside Kitty, each one landing closer than the one before.

Kitty disengaged her anchoring and let the wind take her, catching just one of Noodles’ bolts as her penalty. Kitty ran her Invisibility app again.

On command Ice Phoenix opened her beak and breathed out a wide scattering of snow. The wind caught the snow and spread it across everything in the room, each tiny flake sticking like glue to the first thing they touched. Just to mess with her some more Noodles also reversed the direction of the wind.

Kitty fell arse over ankles in Ice Phoenix’s whirlwind. I felt my stomach lurch in the real world.

Kitty extended Sticky Fingers’ area of effect to her entire body, sticking her to the next wall she smashed into like a bug on flypaper. For a second Kitty just clung there as she was, twisted up like a pretzel as the snow glided by and clung to her.

When she felt she was completely covered in snow, Kitty turned off her invisibility app.

Noodles signalled for the wind to stop and Ice Phoenix stilled her wings, flapping only occasionally to maintain the illusion they had anything to do with keeping her aloft.

Noodles summoned a tablet into his hands and began scanning his surroundings.

Kitty waited for Noodles to turn his back to her. She summoned her staff, wedged it against the wall above her and pointed the other end down to Noodles, before simultaneously turning off Sticky Fingers and extending her staff.

Somehow Noodles had anticipated this move and as soon as Kitty was off the wall Noodles spun on his heels and aimed his tablet right down the line of her staff.

Kitty let go and plummeted to the ground. The snow covering her body turned a distinct yellow colour. Noodles signalled for the winds again, snatching Kitty up before she could hit the ground.

Kitty grit her teeth and let the wind carry her. She pulled herself into a ball to shrink her target profile and bounced across the walls. Noodles peppered the air around her with crossbow bolts, hitting twice.

Then Kitty noticed something, she looked up at the centre of the ceiling, right above Ice Phoenix and Noodles standing safely and unmolested by the swirling winds.

Kitty reached back into her apps and not only reactivated Sticky Fingers, but one called ‘Zoom-Zoom’ as well.

On her next impact her right shoulder adhered to the wall. Kitty unfurled and peeled back Sticky Fingers to cover just the soles of her feet and stood herself up on the side of the wall. Then Kitty began to run.

It was hard at first with the wind buffeting her this way and that, but ‘Zoom-Zoom’ soon lived up to its name and Kitty was sprinting along the wall. When she was comfortable that she had the hang of it, Kitty began making her way towards the ceiling.

Noodles signalled for the wind to change directions and for a second the billowing died down. Kitty recognised this for what it was and immediately changed directions, sprinting back the way she came, but still bringing herself closer to the ceiling.

The wind kicked up, but it was now behind Kitty. She reached the ceiling and began to circle towards the middle.

Noodles tried to change the winds again, but this only gave Kitty the chance to stop circling and make a beeline straight for the centre of the ceiling.

By the time Ice Phoenix had the winds going again. Kitty had already reached the centre. She summoned her staff and dropped straight down.

Noodles aimed his crossbow straight up and hammered at the trigger. Sending as many bolts as he could up at her. Kitty broke her staff in two connected by a long chain and got to work deflecting. He hands became a blur as she batted aside the incoming rush of energy bolts, pausing only to throw one of her sticks out to wrap its chain around Ice Phoenix’s neck. The loop made it impossible for Ice Phoenix to disengage the connection and in a couple of nanoseconds the entire ‘Something with Numbers’ virus would upload and wreak havoc.

In the meantime Noodles dived out of Kitty’s way as she flipped herself upright and touched down on the ground. Noodles brought his bow to bear against her but Kitty already closed the distance between them, dashing aside the only bolt Noodle got off.

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