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14



Bester left Paul's apartment in a hurry, cursing and wondering exactly where Garibaldi had gone. The ancient shaft must have ended in someone's ceiling, which probably meant he was a floor or two down.

Bester's second shot had drawn a flash of pain, but he couldn't tell how badly he had hurt the ex-security officer. Not badly enough, in all likelihood.

He decided to take the stairs. At least there he could reverse direction quickly, and he wouldn't be trapped in a box. Of course, Garibaldi would be thinking the same thing.

The disadvantage was that he had to pocket his weapon briefly to open the stairwell door, which was precisely when the lift opened.

He spun and reached for his weapon at the same time. Then, to his vague surprise, he saw that it wasn't Garibaldi, but a uniformed young man with a mustache and close-cropped hair, accompanied by a similarly dressed, dark-haired, pretty woman. The man's eyes widened, but he acted quickly, pushing the woman down and firing well before Bester even had his pistol out. Bester heard a dull hiss and something struck him sharply in the chest.

It didn't stop him from returning the fire. His first shot missed, but the second took the fellow in the thigh as he ducked back into the lift. The doors closed again.

Bester took the moment to pocket his weapon and yank the stairwell door open again. Only then did he examine his chest. A small hypo-dart stood out from it. He yanked it out. What was it? A knockout drug?

Bester ran down the stairs, determined to get as far away as possible before the drug took effect. He could only hope that Girard's orders had been taken seriously, that the cordon around the neighborhood at least had some holes in it now.

He was almost to the ground floor when he heard the first-floor
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