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the building by the doors," Bjarnesson relayed. He paused. "I think he is gone. I don't think he could fool all three of us working together."

Garibaldi looked back down the shaft, speculatively. The inside was filmed with dust, and what looked like fresh scratch marks.

"I'm going in," he muttered.

"I've sent a detail to try and find the basement, so that end is covered," Girard said. "If you want to follow the cobra into its den, more luck to you."

"Just call me Ricky-Ticky," Garibaldi replied.

Bester was smaller than Garibaldi was, that was clear from the start. He'd known that, of course, only it was hard to think of Bester as small, at least until he was confronted with the fact that he, Garibaldi, fit into the shaft like a cork just a micron shy of a perfect fit. There was little he could do other than wriggle and let gravity do the work. As it was, he had to stretch his arms out above him.

It wasn't until he'd managed, catching and bumping, to descend about ten feet that he considered what might happen if Bester was still at the base of this thing. He would be a perfect target, coming out legs first. A sitting duck.

What the hell did that mean, anyway, a "sitting duck"?

He slid down what he estimated to be another ten or fifteen feet. Then the chute angled sharply. Until that point, he hadn't been able to see how far down it went, but he figured the building was two stories, with a generous basement. So he ought to be about two-thirds of the way down.

Good, because he was getting itchy. The chute was too damned small, and he couldn't move...

But he had dropped only another five or six feet before his feet came to rest on something solid. He kicked around, and found that the chute simply came to an end. Which was stupid, but... come to
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