Dust: Chapter 16 Part 3

PR was a lot more punctual that I would have thought. He got back to me in less than five.

[What is it that you want Dust?]

The answer I wanted to gives was: ‘To punch you in your back-stabbing face.’

[I’m just giving you a heads up so you can look after your people.] I said. [Tachi and I have contacted Roxorgh and told them where they can find Atom, then we lied and told them you intend to sell Atom to Sinologic at around the time we were going to. I don’t know what level of response they intend to take. But I’m giving you the chance to get your civilians out before they hit. They may be following a two-faced hood with delusions of grandeur, but they still don’t deserve to die because you stole what I had rightfully taken.]

[You’re full of shit Dust.]

[Am I? Well I guess in a few weeks when Roxorgh’s cyborgs are tearing through your ‘slum-dwelling peasants’ to get their billion-nuyen toy back you can console yourself with the knowledge my threat lacked credibility at the time.]

PR was quiet on the line for a few beats. Then he asked. [Why? Why you fucking me like this?]

[Why’d you fuck me?] I shot back.

[Mutha… Is that all this is about? You just wanna spite me?]

[No. I just want to show you that Roxorgh and RCF breathing down my neck is something that can very easily be made into your problem. Have fun with that.]

[And you don’t mind that six hundred innocent people are going to be caught in the cross-fire?]

[They won’t be if you hurry up and get them out.]

PR fumed for a second. [You sonuva bitch].

[I suggest you and your friends put your heads together and work out what you can. My responsibility ended when I warned you they were coming. Have a nice day.]


I like to think PR wished he’d been on a real phone so he could slam it down.

I grinned, I’d managed to lock down a sample of the frequency he’d been transmitting through, now all I had to do was crack the encryption.

I jacked out of the deck and passed the cord to Tachi so he could call Roxorgh.

Tachi’s silver tongue sweet-talked Roxorgh’s goons into believing every word he said. That fact that almost every word was the truth actually made less of a difference than you’d think.

First he got in contact with Kawada’s customer service operators, telling them he had information regarding the break-in they had a little while ago. Tachi got priority transferred to the security desk, where he explained about the thermate grenades in their mailroom and that he would like to speak to the head of security.

The head of security was produced astoundingly fast. Tachi explained that he was one of the thieves that had stolen the prototype A.I.

You could practically hear the trace being applied to the call. Naturally the head asked why we were calling them. Tachi explained our situation in the broadest strokes. We’d stolen the A.I., but then had it stolen from us by our supposed allies, if we couldn’t make money off the property we’d taken then Silicon Dreams may as well have it back. He then gave them PR’s location and let them know that last we knew PR was planning on selling the A.I. on in two weeks.

The security head stalled for time, asking Tachi to repeat himself and scrunched some paper, as if he were writing it down instead of recording the audio feed. Tachi humoured the guy, a trace to our current location would only back up our story.

I kept my eyes peeled for any army drones that might choose that moment to fly overhead.

Finally the security head let him go and we hung up.

The next day I joined Tachi up at the OP and borrowed the binoculars off him. Tachi took the chance to relax and gaze up at the sky while I checked the range on some of the land marks.

Hmmm.” I ‘Hmmmed.’ “How do you fancy your chances of making a thousand-metre shot with that thing?”

Tachi glanced at the AR-10 sitting on its bipod. “I don’t. Why? What is there at the kilometre mark?”

I passed the binocs back to him. “Only the head office and most of the classrooms.”

Those are all the way on the other side of the compound. By the time you get out there Patriot Rap’s people will have more to worry about than a face they might remember from a wanted poster.”

If Roxorgh joins the party.”

Without them, there is no party. Unless your heart is still set on the Butch and Sundance ending?”

I looked out across the streets of Flint with my naked eyes. “Cross that bridge when we get there.”

Speaking of the bridge we’re on, how’s the decryption coming?”

I’ve managed to isolate some sections of the code that I recognise, but when I run other parts through the same decryptor, it comes out as gibberish. I think they’ve made a frankenigma out of several different ciphers. I just need to find examples of the other ciphers online.”

Do you want me to look for them while you take a break?”

Getting tired of the scenery are you?”

There’s only so many times I can watch that golden cyborg do his little hip-roll dance and flex every time something with oestrogen walks passed.”

He does what? That’s hilarious.” I snapped up the binocs and looked out over the compound.

Tachi smirked “He’s by the Gymnasium, side red.”

I found him. Then I LOL’ed. As the retro-kids like to say.

I tried to ignore the stench as I felt another movement and squeezed it out. The worst thing about setting up a long-term observation post is the lack of facilities. This is it, ladies and gentlemen, this is the glamorous work that separates the muscle-merc posers from the real soldiers.

Spending days on end in a shattered one-room apartment with no running water, enduring mind-numbing boredom, eating cold rations and shitting into plastic bags. The highlight of the week so far was noticing one more airborne drone than normal passing over Jamestown. Whether this meant Roxorgh was getting ready to make a move or just that the Army had reorganised their resources we couldn’t tell.

We’d actually managed to get rid of the hobos downstairs. It hadn’t taken a lot of effort. I just tossed the bags down to the ground floor and after a few days they cleared out.
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