"You don't even know for sure if it was an Atharian," said Cabe glumly. They'd already had a couple of versions of this conversation.
"It was an Atharian. I heard him talking to the MPs. He gave them a fistful of chips to let him go. If he'd told them about the weapon they'd have taken that instead." Brax was patient with his friend. He knew Cabe's Holy Father would not help Cabe escape the pit. Cabe's father, filled with love for the Five Gods, would cast his own son down into darkness.
"How do you know he didn't come back for it?"
"Don't. But he didn't." Brax's stomach tightened at the thought of that. He hoped hard. He almost prayed but never before had The Five been interested in helping a street rat like himself. He was counting on the fact that it would be too dangerous for the Atharian to come back for his mas-tech device. Once, he could flash some chips and get a free ride back to his ship. Twice, a shipload of chips would not keep him out of the Pit.
Finally the right alley gaped darkly in front of them. An MP patrol car rolled by in the street. Taking it easy, they blended into the shadow of a warehouse, empty and probably abandoned, but conveniently placed. They had both long ago acquired the knack of casually blending into whatever was nearby. Brax could do it without even thinking about it. He'd had buddies dragged off to the Pit while he hid two feet away thinking peaceful thoughts.
When the rolling MPs were gone, Brax ran for the trash bin. There'd be walking MPs but Cabe would keep an eye out for them. Brax fell onto his belly and peered underneath. His heart sank at first. He couldn't see a thing, but then the dark was thickening and the undersides of trash bins weren't famous for being well lit. Only The Five knew what nameless horrors were rotting in that velvety black, though his nose could make a guess. Brax pushed his hand under the bin. He found something soft and slightly damp, jerked away from it and continued groping.
Cabe, flattened against the bin in the darkness, whistled one soft note. MPs at a distance. Brax worked faster. He flattened himself harder against the crumbled asphalt of the alley and pushed his arm further in. There! His fingers brushed against something smooth and cold.