wave of steam and cooling plasma slapped Bester like the palm of a sun god. He lost his weapon in a moment of agony. He might have even blacked out for a second.
When he managed to look up, through the spots in his eyes, he saw Garibaldi rising up between him and the next street-lamp. With an inarticulate cry, Bester scrambled to his feet and launched a punch with his good arm. His face felt scalded. Maybe he was already dying.
The fist connected, but all wrong, and he nearly broke his wrist. Still, Garibaldi grunted and fell back. Bester dropped and swept, and had the almost religious satisfaction of feeling the impact, of seeing Garibaldi leaving the ground, hearing the meaty thud as he struck pavement. He kicked out again, catching Garibaldi in the ribs, and again.
The third kick met only rain. Garibaldi was in motion again, back on his feet, advancing.
They circled each other warily.
"Still a loser, aren't you, Garibaldi?" Bester sneered. "What's the matter, do you need a few snorts of Dutch courage?" He had to keep the ex-security officer off-balance, mentally and emotionally. Garibaldi had a greater reach and was three decades younger than him. "Or are you just too dumb to know when you're outmatched, with or without the booze?"
Garibaldi laughed harshly. "I'm not the one running like a jackrabbit. That would be you."
"I'm not running anymore," Bester returned. "I'll admit I'm in a hurry, but I figured if you wanted me so bad, I could do a favor for an old friend. Especially one with whom I've been so... intimate."
"Don't even try to play that," Garibaldi said. "You're caught. Admit it. I've got you."
"You and what army? Oh yes, you do have an army, don't you? You didn't have the guts to come after me on your own. Afraid I'll turn your mind