After Marina/Ainhoa left, Kepa went up to the bar to order some drinks.
“Orain zer?” asked Kepa when he returned, handing a beer to Maite. “What now? What do we do if we can’t trust Marina’s manifestations in the bubbles?”
Maite shrugged as she took a sip of her beer. “I’m not sure. I suspect it all depends on how long the bubble exists when we get there. If we get there soon after the bubble was created and find the zatia quickly, I suspect that version of Marina is in pretty good shape. But the longer she lingers in the bubble…”
“The more corrupt she might become?” finished Kepa.
“Well, not necessarily corrupt,” replied Maite. “At least, I don’t think so. But certainly more independent. More separated from the core that is Marina. So, I think we need to be finding the zatia as fast as possible whenever we enter a new bubble.”
Kepa nodded as he picked up his gin and tonic.
It wasn’t long before they finished their drinks, paid their tab, and headed across the street to the next pub where they were going to meet Koldo and the rest of their cuadrilla. Koldo was already there, waiting for them, when they entered. He had more drinks waiting on the bar with their names on them. Kepa smiled as he took another gin and tonic.
“Epa!” he cried. “Is everything ready?”
“Bai,” replied Koldo. “We have the place for the evening.” He looked over at Maite. “You ready for the best meal of your life?”
Maite laughed. “Remember, my parents used to run a restaurant. That’s a pretty high bar, you know.”
“Oh, badakit! I know,” replied Koldo. “But, I’ve been practicing. I think I’m turning into a pretty good chef.”
Koldo’s sister, Itxaso, and her boyfriend Xanti showed up a few moments later. Koldo downed his drink.
“Everyone ready?” he asked.
“Don’t you have a date?” asked Maite, making a show of looking around the bar.
“Ez, not tonight. Tonight, the food is my date. I plan to lavish all of my affections on the wonderful meal I’m preparing for you all.”
Maite looked quizzically at Itxaso, who smiled and nodded. “Yeah, he’s always like this now. Ever since he joined the txoko…”
“I’m just glad you invited us,” interjected Kepa. “I could use a great steak!”
Koldo laughed as he slapped Kepa on the back. “Ez, not a great steak. The best steak ever!”
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