Shades stood on top of the bathroom counter, trying to make as little noise as possible.
He really did have to use the can, and was rather surprised Erix actually let him. Not that the privilege came without its conditions. When Erix came back in to take a break from his stakeout of the shantytown on Kon Aru, having left Shades to watch what might well be his last sunset, he made his request. And his captor consented, but cautioned him: And don’t insult my intelligence by asking me to undo your hands. To which he replied, Of course. But it’ll be tough to wipe my ass like this. Erix left no room for debate: Deal with it.
And so Shades had. Sitting on the toilet, he had curled up his legs and nearly wrecked his back shifting his manacled hands in front of him. Flushing the toilet with his elbow to mask the noise. Though he had locked the door behind him out of habit, he knew that against Erix’s energy blades, that would buy him five to ten seconds, at most.
Much to his dismay, the bathroom had no windows, which was probably why Erix allowed him to use it in the first place. Along with not wanting to put up with the smell if his captive really did reach his limit, he accommodated Shades already knowing this. Just when he feared that taking care of business and scratching a couple itches that were driving him to distraction was all he would accomplish with this ploy, he spotted a vent in the wall, near the ceiling, apparently connecting to the next room.
It was going to be a tight squeeze, but he was fresh out of bright ideas.
He knew he was taking an awful risk, but if there was one thing he and Erix saw eye to eye on, it was that there were times when you just had to help yourself. Could hear the voice of his father, Sergeant Douglas MacLean, tell him: A prisoner’s first obligation is to escape. Though he was all too aware that Max would come for him, this was his own life at stake, and in the meantime, he would take any chance he got to save himself.
And Max, who would have to fight Erix otherwise.
Trying hard to ignore the sweat pouring down his back, Shades carefully removed the vent grill, struggling to juggle the need for stealth against the time slipping through his fingers. Just barely managing to hang on to the grill from the other side, slipping it sideways through the vent and gently setting it on the counter. Flushing the toilet one last time with his toe, he climbed into the vent.
The act itself reminded him that he would be trying to make a getaway in his stocking feet, having left his boots back in the room he was held in. Thankful that Master Al’s training involved running laps around the block in his bare feet, as it would be his only advantage once he was on the run. It was indeed a tight fit getting through the tiny vent, and fortunately, there was a cot directly underneath to break his fall.
Hoping that didn’t make too much noise, he rolled over— to find himself face-to- face with the business end of Erix’s power pistol, stopping him short.
Apparently, I wasn’t fooling anybody but myself…
“Any last words?” Erix asked.
“Um, shit?” Shades replied sheepishly.
“Good answer, smartass.”
The last thing Shades saw was a red-orange flash of light as Erix pulled the trigger, then darkness.