I was halfway across the station when the first Jack saw me. I put one in its eye, and it spun and went down on the floor in front of the others. The rest turned at the sound but the echo confused them. A couple homed in on me as I made it to the kid, and a bunch of them started toward us.
I knelt by her body. There was blood in her hair and smeared on the tiles around her. Her coat was gone and I could see bloody bite marks on her arms and hands. One of her wrists looked broken, and her pulse was weak. I didn’t know if she’d make it.
I hoisted her up and held onto her like a vise as the mob closed in. I adjusted the satchel strap then took off toward the biggest hole in the crowd I could find, as fast as I could manage.
One of them clipped me and I felt fingers pull at my sleeve. I popped two stims and adrenaline shot through me as I shouldered through two more that were baring my way. One reeled and the other one went down on the floor as I stumbled past them. More moved in as I tacked hard, and made a run for the ramp.
I couldn’t shoot without dropping the kid. The satchel threw me off balance, the strap biting into the side of my neck while her stick legs flailed on either side of me. They were all around us, hands pawing and grabbing as they crowded in. One of my legs almost went out from under me and I felt her body slip a notch.
Don’t drop her. Don’t do it…
I aimed for the weakest link and plowed through the wall of meat and bone. Two went down and I started to fall over with them. The kid snapped to then, and screamed. There were bodies all around us. A hand grabbed the satchel strap but I managed to pull away. When its fingers came free I got my footing and pushed off the floor. The concrete ramp ahead was steep and looked ready to cave in any second, but it held when I started up. I grabbed the detonator from my belt, and shouldered off the satchel’s strap as I made a break for the hole up above.
She was small, but she was heavier than she looked and between her and the satchel it was too much to carry up the steep grade. My legs threatened to give out. I popped the last two stims and pushed harder while they closed in behind me but it wasn’t going to be enough. One boot slipped and I stumbled, just managing to right myself as I dropped the satchel and let it skid down into the rubble behind me. I heard it hit the floor and kept going.
The kid screamed again as a hand grabbed me from behind. I tried to jerk free but it had me, and was pulling me down.
“Hold on!” I yelled. A piece of rebar stuck out of the concrete just ahead. I made one last push and lunged for it. My dead hand grabbed on, and gripped it like a machine.
The Jack was going to pull me in two. I didn’t know if we were out of the blast zone, but it was the best I could do. With the kid crushed against my chest, I jammed my thumb down on the detonator’s trigger.
There was a half second beat, then a loud thump from below. Light flared up and threw shadows across the ramp. A wave of hot air hit my back and everything went white. Through the fog, I could barely make out a faint light up above.
The weight on my back eased up as I heard the revivor’s flesh sizzle. In seconds, it was gone. Below me it sounded like a bucket of ice got thrown in a fry pit, as warnings flashed by on the HUD faster than I could read. Everything flashed. An image of the prosthetic appeared, framed in red as I felt it disconnect.
Through the mist, I saw the skin of my dead hand boil away. Under it was black blood and gray muscle. Under that was bone, the color of a junkie’s teeth.
Under that was nothing, and with the kid still clutched to my chest, I fell down into the fog.