Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 07 - "Away From Home"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Max vs Security

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2008-12-07 - Updated: 2008-12-07 - 2155 words - Complete

“Max!” Shades shouted, scrambling to drag Max back to his feet in a mad frenzy to get away before the commotion started to attract the wrong kind of attention. Even as he spoke, he turned to help Max to his feet, hoping his new friend wouldn’t think him too rude, as he decided to escape now, apologize later.

Much to Shades’ surprise, Max was already bounding back to his feet, having rolled past the rest of the fallen clothes, and thus saw first what his companion had yet to notice.

“Where’d it go?…”

So focused were they on regaining their feet, they failed to notice that they had already attracted the wrong kind of attention as a pair of security guards came around the side of the atrium they just ran past only moments ago.

“Whoa! Hold on there!” shouted one of the guards as they stepped in the way.

Shades would curse his old-world reflexes for a long time to come, as he skidded to a halt before he even realized what he was doing. Unsure of what was happening, Max also halted. As soon as he did so, he found he now shared Shades’ unease.

“Where’s the fire?” the other guard asked. “Don’t you know there’s no running in the halls?”

“I’m sorry,” Shades said, alarmed at how automatically the words flowed from his mouth. He already knew his mistake, and it was all he could do not to kick himself at how easily he had fallen for it. Even as he tried to focus on talking his way out of this predicament, he remembered a bit of trivia Vince once ran by him, a little tidbit from one of his Drama classes. A uniform is just a kind of costume, his friend had said, and being a cop has a lot to do with acting. Something about police in some places doing local community theater acting, or some such. Now he felt the strain of trying to break away from the script of this charade after so many years of adhering to it. “We’re in a bit of a hurry. We have to get going, or we’re gonna be late.”

“Hey, Shades! It’s gone!” Max cried, pointing off ahead. Where there was once a bank of exit doors, there was now the entrance to some trendy clothing store. Still trying to figure out exactly what just happened, he demanded, “How’d that happen!?”

“I guess there is a time limit…” Shades muttered as he looked over and confirmed it for himself. Trying not to sound as bitter as he felt, he added, “That’s how.”

“But…” Max stammered.

“I don’t know either,” Shades told him, trying to console himself as much as his new friend. There were things he did know, but he would save those for another conversation. “It’s hard to explain,” (like some twisted curfew, he realized even as he said it) “and now is not the time or the place. Anyway, um, Max, let’s get going…”

He was liking this situation less by the minute.

“What’s the hurry?” asked the second guard. “We just want to talk.”

Yet even as he tried to move on, the guards moved in closer, barring their way.

“Just a minute,” said the first guard. “I could be mistaken,” though there seemed to be no uncertainty in his tone, “but you look a lot like a description of a young man wanted for questioning in the death of a repairman about three weeks ago. I think we should take you over to the main office to see if the others can ID you…”

And Shades knew they would.

“What’re you talking about?” Shades asked, deciding for feign ignorance. “What’s going on here?”

Shades spoke casually enough, but Max could still sense he did not like them, and was increasingly certain that the feeling was mutual. He had no idea who they were, but he could tell they were bad news. Their manner brought to mind Justin’s descriptions of TSA soldiers, and, even worse, his own memories of Cyexian pirates.

Even as they instinctively turned to start away from them again, one of the guards turned his attention to Bandit, demanding, “Hey, headband! You got a permit for this?”

Bandit fielded that one himself with a low growl, slightly baring his fangs. Apparently, he thought these guys were trouble, too.

“He’s with me,” Max told them. Though in such menacing company, he feared his feline companion might strike the first blow, something Dad had always cautioned him not to do.

Little did he know that Douglas MacLean and Master Al had taught his new friend much the same thing. Never be the one to start a fight, but if you must fight, then be the one to finish it. Or the Master Al version: We never throw the first punch. We just throw the second, third and fourth. That Shades was also bracing for the worst.

“What happened to the exit?” Max asked, trying to change the subject and defuse the situation, little knowing he was about to make it worse.

“What exit?” the first guard demanded.

“The one that was just there a moment ago…”

“There was never an exit there,” he told Max. “I don’t know what the hell you’re tryin’ to pull, but I’m not in the mood…”

“Then why don’t you escort us to the nearest exit?” Shades demanded. “After all, that’s what you security types seem to do best.”

Then remembered DJ’s ominous rumors about disappearances, along with how many times he had been told to watch what he wished for, knowing all too well that he couldn’t take back what he said.

“That does it!” thundered the second guard. “You wanna play games with me, smartass? Your ass is mine, punk!”

In spite of this escalation, Shades was still unprepared for the guard’s abrupt outburst, caught off-guard as he was shoved against the railing of the atrium behind him. But before the guard could continue his tirade, Shades righted himself, jumping in from several feet out of reach and kicking him. The guard fell on his ass, completely taken aback by this unexpected level of resistance.

“See?” Shades shouted, trying not to think about how dangerously close he had just come to sharing the aforementioned repairman’s fate, “I can push too, asshole!”

In the heat of battle, Max’s moves were pure instinct. Even while the other guard moved to restrain him, then tried to decide if he should move against Shades instead, Max simply acted. “You son of a bit—” was all the guard had time to blurt before Max struck him with a hard right.

And a sharp “Leave him alone!”

“Don’t you be gettin’ any funny ideas, boy…” the guard told Max as he whipped out his nightstick. Clearly intending to make an example out of this punk who dared to challenge his authority. “ ’Cause I won’t take any crap from you!”

Max clearly didn’t know the whole story behind this, but he seriously doubted it really had anything to do with Bandit. These two, like the bullies they were, liked to throw their rather ample weight around. So it was no surprise that they didn’t like Shades, since he chose to stand up to them.

“I warned you, punk!”

With that, the guard rushed Max, swinging his stick. Having been expecting a fight, what with all the trouble he’d had with guards lately, Max sidestepped him. The guard’s second blow connected, though, sending Max staggering.

Emboldened by his initial success, the guard advanced again. Max, though, was lost in combat mode, already shrugging off the blow. He stepped in past the guard’s reach, grabbing his arm in mid swing, twisting his opponent’s body around with it. His arm gave a loud, wet snap as Max threw him down.

After that, the guard just sat there, moaning in agony, his right arm hanging limply at his side.

“You bastard! You broke his arm!”

The other guard, meanwhile, had decided that Max was an even greater threat than Shades, turned to attack him while his back was turned. But Shades had other plans. Turning his back on him proved to be a mistake, as Shades flanked him with a low, sweeping kick, tripping him up.

Max, his opponent’s surprise attack revealed, turned and grabbed him and swung him around, slamming him against the railing. Sliding across the floor, he hit hard enough to send a spiderweb of cracks through the glass paneling, knocking him out. Meanwhile, the guard with the broken arm tried to reach out for his nightstick with his one good hand, but Bandit snarled at him, and he simply forgot about it.

Max and Bandit looked briefly at each other, then glanced around to make sure there were no more enemies. Then stood proudly, triumphantly, side by side. And Shades wasn’t sure quite what to make of it.

Apparently, neither was the crowd, for there was a long, awkward moment as they stared at this young man and his feline friend with a mixture of awe, horror and perplexity.

“Who do you think you are? Extreme Jake?” Shades finally managed. He had never seen anything like that in real life, not even in Master Al’s dojo had he ever seen someone fight without holding back like that. And he couldn’t help but wonder if this was more what his sensei would be like in a real battle.


“Never mind.”

“What’s wrong?” Max asked, seeing the troubled look on Shades’ face. “We won, didn’t we?”

“Um, you’ve heard the one about winning the battle but losing the war, haven’t you?” Shades gestured for Max to follow him, quietly fleeing the scene. “There’s more where that came from. As long as they can’t prove anything, we should be fine.”

“I don’t think so.” Now that Max thought about it, and he felt that Shades knew it, too. “They won’t forget us. They’ll be back.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Shades admitted. So much for reassuring him. And after the way our new friend busted ’em up like that, things’ll never be quite the same with those guys… As much as it cramped his style, they would have to lay even lower. “Fortunately, I know just the place.”

Max found himself recalling Justin’s descriptions of the Ruins, and wondering where Shades was planning to hide out.

“And keep your guard up,” Shades cautioned. Now that their shot at escape had failed, Max, my man, you’re about to get a crash-course in survival around here. “Those Security guys are sneaky bastards.”

“And they’re all over the place, aren’t they?” Max hoped his new friend knew what he was doing. “I don’t think we could beat all of them.”

“You got it. They’ve got us seriously outnumbered, but if we can keep it down to two-on-two, we can take ’em! For a little while, anyway. Still, it’s okay to be a little nervous— it keeps you from becoming overconfident.” And his own nerves reminded him just how new he was to this adventuring business himself as he wondered when exactly he started running his mouth so much. “Of course, you’ve got some kick-ass moves there, Max…”

“Where are we going, Shades?”

“The one place that’ll hide me anymore. You’ll see…” Shades smiled elusively. This just won’t do… he thought to himself, switching gears. He could change up his own style easily enough, but Max’s costume would need a complete overhaul. “Say, Max, you ever think about getting a haircut?”

“A haircut?” Max echoed.

“Yeah, and we’ll have to do something about those clothes. You look like you just survived a ‘B’ sci-fi flick, man.” Just looking at Max reminded him of his first day here, and he laughed in spite of himself. “There’s nothing we can do about Bandit, but we can at least clean you up a bit, maybe lose the headband…”


“Yeah, you look like a Hippie.” And for a moment, he could just hear Mom: Now don’t you be puttin’ down us Hippies… and for a moment couldn’t decide if he was sad or amused. So he switched gears again, saying, “And I can see that you have a gun hidden in your jacket. That’s a big no-no around here if you don’t want people to notice you. But the most important thing is a good disguise.”

“Uh, Shades…”

“Tell ya what. Let’s go talk to da Boss DJ first, then we’ll talk disguises.”

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