a solid lead
“…Where I met Max,” Shades finished a rather compressed version of his stay at the Mall.
“You were shopping!?” Justin exploded.
Being the first ones to reconvene at the library, Shades was filling Justin in on some of what had happened to his friend after they got separated in Tranz-D. And trying desperately to break the ice with Max’s standoffish friend.
“Dude, it’s not like we were on vacation or something,” Shades explained, his impression that Justin had already made up his mind not to like him getting stronger by the minute. “Those guards were trying to kill us. They hunted for us everywhere.”
“But you still had your weapons, and unlimited cash.” Something he would just about kill for.
“And I would have traded both just to leave,” Shades told him. “Look, I’m not going to do the whole more-tormented-than-thou thing. I saw that monster for myself, and I’m not trying to make light of what you’ve been through. I’m just saying that we had a few problems of our own.”
“Well…” Justin could almost see his point. Their situation sort of resembled his. But at least they got to stop and enjoy themselves sometimes. “At least you didn’t have to crawl around in the vents just to stay alive.”
“Touché,” Shades conceded. “I guess Max and I did get to have some fun, too…”
“How the hell did you end up in there anyway?”
“It’s a long story,” Shades told him for the time being, “but I think I’ll let Max finish telling his own part for himself.”
“Any luck?” Kato asked as she strode up to the steps and fell in with them.
Both shook their heads at the same time.
“Shit.” Those two had gotten lost before— it seemed to be one of their specialties— but usually not this lost. “Dammit, I know where they’ve been, but not where they are.”
“They better not’ve gone into Tranz-D…” On some unknown impulse, Justin decided to keep his visit to Obscura Antiques, as well as the peculiar figurine the old man gave him, a secret. At least for now. It’s not like it had yielded any info on her friends’ current whereabouts, and he was pretty sure they’d think he was crazy. Wasn’t so sure himself.
So the three of them just sat there, trying to figure out what to do next.
After a couple minutes, Max came around the corner, Bandit in tow, saying, “Hey guys! What’s up?”
“Nothing,” Justin told him flatly.
“Good,” Max told them, trying on a variation of Shades’ style, “because I think I know where your friends are, Kato.”
“Then where are they?” she demanded, seeing only Max and Bandit, trying not to show her dread at the mere thought of having to venture back into Tranz-D.
“It’s hard to explain,” Max told them, gesturing for them to follow him, seeming not to even notice everyone else’s relief as he led them away from the library— away from the warpgate. “Come on. It’ll be easier if I show you.”