After a long bus ride, with Winter calling the shots, as the two others didn't really know what they were doing, they finally got off in the Ceefo quarter. It had to have taken a few hours, but Winter had forgotten to keep an eye on the time.
"Let's just walk towards the tallest and newest building" Winter said, as he was sure there would only be one that would fit such a description.
"Like that?" Thom asked, pointing in the opposite direction of where Winter was scouting. A tall, white, building was towering about everything else, making sure to be seen.
"Like that. Let's go" Winter said, as he started to walk in that direction. He decided to ignore how everything around him felt wrong. This had without a doubt been a slum. It still was, in a way. But there was no people. At least not out in the street.
As they got closer to the building, they heard music, as well as a loud voice, ringing out into the empty town. Some applause made Winter think it wasn't all empty, but there was still several bad feelings that kept jumbling together in his stomach.
As Coach heard the voice talking, he started running, as if someone had put him on fire.
"It's him! It's Max's dad!" Coach said, with a tinge of crazy, as he ran.
Thom and Winter started running after him, easily catching up to him, as both of them tried to calm him down.
"We don't know what happened" Winter said, thinking about the possibility of Max having been kidnapped by his own dad, still not wanting to say it out loud, but also not wanting to let Coach run into a situation they didn't quite have a grasp on.
"Yea, let's just stake it out, first" Thom agreed, as he sent Winter a look of understanding. The three of them tip-toed along the buildings, finding a spot, where they had a full view to the building, as well as a podium in front of it. Although there weren't many people compared to the size of the building, there was still some.
"Is that Max?" Thom whispered, though they were already far enough away for him to speak normally, he got caught up in the tense mood.
"Where?" Winter asked, not being able to see much.
"There" Thom said, pointing to the side of the podium.
"MAX!" Coach yelled, with both Winter and Thom's hands flying in front of it. Both of them felt the tense air around the situation. Especially Winter looked nervous.
"Something's off" Winter said out loud, as he couldn't expect Coach to sit still without a good reason.
"First, there was a lot of media coverage for this. So how come everything is gone now, while there still is a few people here? Also, why is it such a small group of people, compared to the status of the man in charge, this entire city should be buzzling with paparazzi!" Winter said, trying to collect his thoughts as he went.
"Also, why did Max's dad lie to you? If Max was here all along, that means his dad knew, but chose not to tell you. Isn't that weird?" Winter asked, as he could see Coach felt the tension a bit more as well. He gave a slight nod at Winter, as him and Thom removed their hands from Coach's mouth.
"If the two of you are sure that's Max, then at least we know where he is, now" Winter said, trying to figure out their next step. He couldn't see Max clearly, himself, but he didn't doubt the two of them would make a mistake like that.
"Does he look okay?" Winter continued, as this was the next concern. His safety.
"He looks beaten" Thom said, sounding beat as well. Coach didn't say anything, once again starting to blame himself.
"From what I can see, this is the most likely thing to have happened" Winter started, as he had finally decided to give a quick rundown of his theories, as it seemed to be the most likely thing that had happened, seeing the situation they were currently in.
"Max's dad was building this place, trying to keep it a secret. However, Max ended up leaking this, and throwing it out into the world, making people look into it. As the opening was nearing, Max's dad got desperate, and ended up taking Max, and forcing him to clean up after himself, so only the people who was supposed to know, would know" Winter doesn't quite know if this explanation makes much sense, as thinking out loud wasn't a thing he did often.
"I guess… That makes sense…" Coach spoke up, nodding a bit as he took in the explanation.
"Dude, that's some impressive detective work…" Thom agreed, as he looked at Winter with new eyes. This made Winter feel guilty, as he had been on that theory for quite a while, without saying anything, all because he didn't want this kind of praise. He didn't want anything to do with this kind of thing in the first place…
"But what now?" Thom was the first one to break the silence that had suddenly come over them, as they all had thought the same thing.
"The way I see it, we can go home, and wait for Max. Since we know he is safe for now" Winter tried, but Coach interrupted him.
��We can't just leave him alone with his dad!" Coach insisted, raising his voice a bit.
"Or we can go get him…" Winter finished, as he knew Coach wouldn't let it go.
"But before we do anything. We need to give Max a sign that we're here. He's the one who has the best feel of the situation, to come back with us or not. We don't really know anything for sure, after all" Winter tried, as a warning was necessary.
"Right…" Coach and Thom agreed in unison, as they looked at Winter, waiting for him to start talking again.
"So, how do we do that?" Coach asked, light having returned a bit to his eyes.
Winter gave out a little sigh. He had a few ideas, but the more he was to lead people, and let them see what he could, the more likely his secrets would pour out. And he didn't know if he could handle even a single one of them to come to light.
"For now, we scout the area" Winter decided, hoping to get some time alone to figure it out.
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