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try again. And again, until you get it right. Do you understand?"

The policeman looked at him with a weary sort of comprehension.


"Good. Here's the information. And make it believable."

Girard performed flawlessly.

"Perfect," Bester told him, patting his head. "You've just saved a few lives." He wrapped a piece of tape around Girard's head. Then, carrying the dead teep's pistol, he went back into the bathroom to kill Garibaldi.

* * *

Garibaldi had felt like a sucker plenty of times in his life, but this was going to stand out as the high point-the Olympus Mons of suckerhood-if he managed to survive it.

And Lise wasn't going to like this story, not at all. Best not to tell her. Of course, when it hit the papers-well, that might take a while. If Bester killed everyone who knew he'd come down here, they might just miss the body until the smell started percolating.

That did it. Yep, he was panicking. He always got silly when he panicked.

He strained at the chute again, as if by some miracle the physics of the situation might suddenly change. But the mechanical problem stayed the same. Try as he might, he couldn't climb up.

He might get better purchase if he dropped his PPG, but at the moment that was his one and only chance. Bester might not know he had a gun, and he might get off the first lucky shot.

He doubted that Bester would leave something like that to chance, though. He'd probably heat up a pan of oil and dump it on him first, something like that.

He rolled his eyes. Perfect. He was thinking of things to help Bester out, just on the off chance Bester hadn't thought of them himself. Could he be scanned from up there? Did a tiny glimpse of him constitute line of sight? Probably.

Even in a straight-up exchange of
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