Dust Chapter 12 Part 4

You remember the wire in my head? I told Kitty, I don’t know if…”

She did.”

Well it’s hooked up to a proximity sensor. The moment you take me out of this room it’ll activate.”

[Oh no.] Moe-Moe said.

Tachi put a hand on my shoulder and invited me to a private chat.

[That doesn’t leave us with a lot of options.] He said gravely.

[What do you mean?]

[Well either we leave him with Chrome Fist and he keeps playing against us until the end of the job, or we remove him from play now.]

[You mean kill him?]

[It’s cold Dust, but it seems to be our only option.]

[Tachi.] I began, reaching for the multi-head screwdriver and soldering pen in my chest pocket. [I’m an electronics specialist. I’ll fix it.]

[What are we going to do?] Kitty asked when I came out of the private chat.

[What the government used to pay me sixty-thousand nuyen a year to do.] I said. [Tachi, get the lights. I need to see what I’m doing.]

Tachi obliged. While I changed the settings in my tech specs I got Moe-Moe to turn off the LGM so I didn’t have little red dots in my vision from the inhabitants on the floors below.

[Alright.] I said, giving the biopod a good look-over. [I’ve got a Jarvic Series 9A Braincase. I need a schematic, preferably 3D. I also need everyone’s best guess for how one would go about modifying that case to do what Noodles says they’ve done. Also if possible, I need the likely places where one would put a tamper-switch.]

[Schematic found!] Atom announced. [And from what I can see, if they have installed a tamper switch it would be on the opposite end to the hinge joint.]

I slotted the correct size Phillips head into my screwdriver and got to work unbolting the brain case. Turns out there was no tamper-switch. RCF must have been confident we’d never get our hands on the pod.

A download request icon appeared in the corner of my eye. I accepted.

[Based on the available room within the case and the location of its regular functions, I’ve adjusted the schematic to show the most likely way they’ve modified it to kill Noodles in the manner he described.]

[Colour-coded too. Good work Atom.]

[Thanks Dust.]

Noodles’ naked brain took up the majority of the space inside. But towards the back of the case was where most of the interface hardware was located. It also included the only component with any Japanese characters on it, which just screamed ‘after market’. The bare copper wire emerging from that component and feeding into the brain from the top (rather than the cerebral cortex, where the rest of the interface hardware was connected), betrayed its purpose.

Okie-dokie.” I mumbled, mostly to myself. “I’ve got two options, either I can sever that wire entirely, if I can get to the other end underneath the brain, assuming there is another end. Or I can bypass the part of the circuit that actually leads to the heating element.”

I nibbled at my lip, reached into my pocket again and pulled out my monoscalpel. “Let’s go option B and remove all doubt”.

Be quick about it.” Tachi warned. “We have less than an hour before the next patrol.”

I ran my tongue along my bottom teeth. “This won’t take long.”

The key element in defeating the hotwire in Noodles’ brain was cutting off its connection to the power supply. Once the correct wires had been identified, I trusted to my scalpel’s triple-insulated grip and sliced the connecting wires.

That should be about it.” I said.

[That’s it?] Kitty asked, sounding relieved and a little disappointed.

[Well no.] I said, thinking better of it. [That’s just the critical part done. I believe I may have defanged Noodles’ hot wire. But, just in case it’s wired up to any other nasties, let’s see if we can disable that proximity sensor as well.]

Atom jumped on the cype again. [Let me see if I can find proximity hardware small enough to fit inside that case.]

[You’re really gunning for the MVP trophy aren’t you Atom?]

Atom smirked modestly. [Of course. See if you can find something that looks like this.]

Another download request appeared in the corner of my vision. I brought it up. Atom had sent me a couple of photos of some micro sensors. Cursory inspection of the components before me found one of those pieces towards the top.

A quick check of the way the component was wired up suggested that the sensor was continuously switched to ‘on’ while within proximity range, presumably once the biopod was taken out of range, this turned the switch ‘off’ and then unleashed the hot wire and anything else they might have in store for Noodles.

I cut a short length of wire from the spool in my chest pocket and bit off the plastic on the ends.

I focused on the exact point I would need to apply solder to and hit the magnification option in my tech specs. That tiny, barely 1 millimetre point blew up to be bigger than my thumbnail. With the lightest pressure I coaxed the tiniest blob of molten solder out of my pen and inserted one end of the wire into it. I released the breath I’d been holding, took another one and repeated the process on the other end. Successfully bypassing the circuit and making ‘on’ the only signal the biopod received from the sensor.

How do you feel Noodles?”

I looked up at the screen and saw Noodles’ avatar peering down at the braincase in front of me. “That’s my brain huh? I kinda figured it’d be… bigger.”

[Eugh. Men.] Kitty and Moe-Moe said in stereo.

A loud hiss sounded behind me. I turned to look over my shoulder to see what it was.

Kiru no Yubi hesitated just inside the sliding doors. She wore a black coat that came down halfway through her thighs. She’d replaced her legs after Kitty hit her with the car. Now they looked like a pair of black silk thigh high stockings rather than the shiny PVC she’d worn in Melbourne.

Note to self: Stop ogling the enemy.
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