It has to be a trap. I tear through the store, looking for any possible sign of a trap. The fat clerk comes over to me, and I think he mutters something about making a scene, but I am lightning, focused, searing through all obstacles around me.

Iím searching, tearing the store apart in the process, but thereís nothing. No sign of a trap. No sign of tampering. No bomb, no bugs, no additional surveillance beside the store-owned ceiling cameras. And then another holoscreen lights up. In big blinking text, it says ďNew Message.Ē Just like the other. And one by one, every open holoscreen in the store lights up with ďNew MessageĒ blinking across it like some terrible public service announcement. I think even the clerk stops yelling at me and takes notice, but Iím not paying attention to him. One thought steps up and puts my mind in a straightjacket. I am about to be attacked, I have to get my gun. I run through the door.

I make it halfway through the parking lot before I hear a dull thud and fall onto the pavement. A split-second later, I realize that something very strong just clocked me in the back of the head, and for a moment itís very hard to make sense of anything around me. Thereís a man standing over me and Iím not really sure who but I think itís Drake but heís fuzzy fading in out and out though that could just be. the. bleeding. Then darkness.

But before I can go unconscious, Drake leans down and grabs me by the shirt, pulling me up, cradling my face with his other hand. The shock of motion brings me back and I can see his face mere inches from mine, his breath like the wind from a lit furnace, and he whispers in my ear.

ďStop following me,Ē he says. ďYou need to learn to accept when someone doesnít want to be found.Ē

A small cubic bump protrudes from the side of his head. Cybernetic implant, itís got a bar code and serial number. Itís a miniscreen from the looks of it. Only the newest security from Prostheticore, it appears. The bar code will change every five minutes. Better remember this number. 78K56A9. Remember.

Drake lets go of my shirt and I almost lose consciousness again but I pull myself back at the last second. The rumble of a subway below the parking lot. Drake hears it too, and arching his back like a lion, he slams his cybernetically enhanced frame into the pavement. Then he tenses and pulls up a huge chunk of ground, tossing it to the side. A subway rushes past under the hole he just created. With one last sideways glance at me, he jumps into the hole, onto the speeding train and disappears from sight.

A minute later, Iíve overcome my head injury. Itíll hurt like a bitch tomorrow, though, thatís for sure. But right now, Iíve got a decision to make.

      Look up the serial number in the metascape

      Call Mandy and tell her what happened

      The Prostheticore Building is directly across the street, go investigate in person

      Follow him into the subway tunnel

I couldn't take it anymore. I called it off.