Tatter: Chapter 26

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Tatter supported Ryard beyond the southern exit of Northwing Detention Facility. Half-dragging him, his good arm round her shoulder. He was barely able to stand and grunted in pain with every jolt of movement that torqued his mangled limb, which dangled awkwardly at his side. Tatter paused and leaned the man against the sun-warmed concrete wall of the facility’s smooth, ornateless exterior as a gentle breeze caught her tessellated locks, stygian and agate coiling about a supple alabaster rind. A dance of fire and shadow over a field of shimmering snow. He wiped his bleeding face with the coat-sleeve of his good arm and closed his eyes.

“Fractured?”

He shook his head minimally, not wishing to cause further movement to his searing limb.

“Dislocated.”

“Shall I relocate it?”

“You know how?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sure about that?”

“Father taught me much about anatomy. You trust me, don’t you?”

Ryard thought at first it was a rhetorical question, but quickly realized, from her open, honest posture and the eagerness in her bicolored eyes, the earnestness of the query. The man opened his eyes and moved away from the wall, took a deep breath and nodded.

“Do it.”

She gingerly rolled up his sleeve. Ryard ground his teeth and shivered, initially from the pain, then from the shocking frigidity of her touch. Icy as a corpse. She briskly took his arm at a 90 degree angle away from his body and pulled firmly. The CAV-keep gave a muted howl as a dull snick issued from his joint. Humerus returned to socket. Tatter removed the thick scarf she had obtained from the warehouse, tied it together, tested the knot, draped the interim sling about Ryard’s neck and gently rolled his injured arm into it as he groaned.

“Better?”

He nodded.

“You fixed me, its only fair I do the same.” She smiled broadly and the man, despite his woe, could not but smile in kind.

At length, he adjusted the makeshift sling with his good arm and broke away from Tatter, eyes fearfully scanning the surrounding lot.

“Come on. We need to keep moving.”

The pair passed through a high, fenced passage that lead from the exit of the penitentiary to an adjacent multi-leveled shiftyard, characterised by large square mechanized lifts, which moved with muted metalline thrums, ferrying automated detention shuttles and supply CAVs to appropriate levels, some vanishing beneath street level, others rising to upper transport lanes. All moved in a regular, orderly hum.

As the duo arrived at the bottom of the ramp, Ryard stopped his companion, gesturing to the proliferation of detention shuttles patrolling the perimeter and withdrew a small obsidian chip from his coat pocket.

“They’re shuttles everywhere. They’ll be under the control of whoever Vangr brought in to hack the complex.” The man’s face grew somber “Unlikely we’ll make it out of here together. Take this. Its the tracker from my vehicle. Swallow it. If they take you, wherever they take you, I’ll be able to find you with this.”

“You want to split up?”

He nodded resolutely.

“I’ll distract them, get them chasing me. Create an opening. Run to the south. Don’t stop until you’re outside of the HEZ. If I can shake them, I’ll meet up with you in central sector.”

Tatter looked to the man with grave concern, brow creasing.

“Hey. You trust me, right?”

In reply, Tatter suddenly and wordlessly tossed the chip into her mouth, swallowed it and stared at her companion intently. Ryard offered a lopsided grin and then bolted down the ramp and out across the lot as the sensor stalks of the detention shuttles writhed to life, bending confrontationally in the runner’s direction. The silvery vehicles sped after the hasty figure and vanished amid the architecture’s cloying convolutions.

Tatter steeled herself and then began to jog briskly down the ramp, turning to the left exit whereupon she spied the bodies of several KSRU officers laying upon the ground. As Tatter gasped, something hard collided with the back of her head and the world blurred to black.

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