They tried to stay as close to the main road as possible, but the deranged suburbanite street pattern wasn't always accommodating. They had just found their way back to the main street after their third maze-like detour when something caught Lance's attention.
A man in a slightly disheveled business suit was holding his briefcase with both hands, over his chest. Three kids in their late teens had formed a semi-circle around him and he was backing away from them toward an alley.
"Hang on" Lance said, taking a second look as he pulled his bike to the side of the road. There were two more people in the alley, ducking in the shadows. Lance doubted the business man knew they were there.
"I see them" Tommy replied after a second. Tommy had always been more perceptive than his experience implied.
Lance accelerated toward the scene knowing Tommy would be right behind him. He put his brights on and skidded to a stop in front of the alley. The two kids in the alley shrunk back and shielded their eyes.
The businessman turned suddenly, exposing his back to the teens, but they didn't move yet. For half a second everyone just stared at each other. Lance used that time to sum them up. Based on their clothes and body language these were not hard-core gangers. They were suburban wanna-bes. "I'd leave the man alone if I was you" Lance said to the closest one.
The kid backed up a step and looked at the teen next to him. The second kid puffed out his chest, obviously this was the leader. "That's good advise" he said "maybe you should take it. There are five of us, and only two of you." The other two kids came out of the alley and began to move toward Lance and Tommy.
"It's not a problem for us" Lance said, pulling open his synthleather jacket so the kid could see the Ruger hanging in his shoulder holster. The kids face turned pale, and for a moment his right hand twitched back and forth near the knife he wore on his belt. Lance stared right into his eyes and waited. The kid turned and ran, his companions quickly followed.
"Thanks" the business man stammered. "I...I'm sure some sort of reward..."
"We don't need money" Lance cut him off. "We need directions." The man looked at him, confused. "To Tacoma" Lance continued. "Or a map."
"I have a city-wide map on my pocket secretary" The man said timidly, he looked as if he expected to be mugged for it.
"Great" Lance said. "How much do ya want for it?"
The business man straightened his posture, then his tie. Now that he was making a deal rather than being mugged, he knew how to deal with it. "Well, I shouldn't really part with it. It's got all my appointments and... telecom numbers. But I need a ride home. Nothing's moving besides you guys."
"Maybe we could help each other out" Lance replied. "Which way are you going?"
The man paused, not sure if he wanted to tell the two strangers where he lived. "Maplewood" he said eventually.
"Okay" Lance replied. "We'll give you a ride to Maplewood. You let us borrow your pocket secretary so we can get home. We'll get it back to you in a day or so, when we can."
The man looked confused. It wasn't in his experience to trust people wearing kevlar and synthleather or riding motorcycles. "How do I know I can trust you?" he asked.
The question stung a little, but Lance understood the man's perspective. "Because you're not laying in a pool of your own blood right now while those gutterpunks go through your pockets."
The man found Lance's logic difficult to argue with. He climbed onto the bike behind Lance and shuffled his briefcase for a moment before he was suitably seated.
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