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eyes. Whatever the reason, he began to feel real fear for the first time.
"Or maybe I do not have to kill you. " Francisco eased up
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on the pressure a little, letting O'Neal breathe. "Perhaps I will just break
all of your bones, one at a time."
Seeing that there was no way he was going to be able to dissuade his
partner from his chosen course of inquiry, Sykes decided he might as well
back him all the way. Since Francisco had chosen the role of heavy, Sykes
figured he ought to play the other. Good-cop bad-cop was no kid's game.
"Don't piss him off, O'Neal." Sykes adopted his most serious mien. "When he
gets like this I can't control him. These Newcomers, they don't get excited
real often, but when they come close to the edge like this you can't do
anything with 'em short of bringing in a SWAT team. Might as well write off
anybody they take a dislike to. I've seen him like this before. Got his
adrenaline or whatever the hell they've got inside them all pumped up. I
saw him jerk a guy's spine out and show it to him. Nothin' I could do. I
hadda go throw up. I mean, it was the most gruesome, sickening thing you'd
ever imagine you could. . ."
Now it was fear and not Francisco's grip that made it difficult for O'Neal
to talk.
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"They took the stuff out, all of it, this afternoon."
"How much?" Francisco demanded to know.
"Jesus, I can't tell you guys everything. If any of this gets out, I'm a
dead man."
The Newcomer put a little of his great weight behind the arm pinning the
technician to the wall. "You may be a dead man anyway."
"All right, all right!" O'Neal took a deep breath. "About fifty kilos." The
detective went numb inside. Mistaking his expression, the technician rushed
ahead. "Concentrate mostly, some street grade already tubed. You figure it
out. Me, I'd guess they had to run up some samples to give the dealers."
O'Neal would never know how lucky he was at that moment. Francisco came
within a hair's breadth of actually breaking the man's neck. Seeing the
look that came over his friend's face, Sykes steeled himself for a jump
onto his partner's back. But somehow the Newcomer resti-ained himself.
"Where have they taken it?"
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"Encoun--Encounters Club."
Francisco maintained the pressure for another moment, then abruptly let go.
Gasping for air and clutching his bruised throat, O'Neal slid to the floor.
Sykes stared down at him.
"if I were you, chum, I'd find my bank's nearest nightteller and make a big
withdrawal. It's definitely overdue vacation time for a certain methane
engineer. By the time you come back from wherever you have the good sense
to get off to, we'll have this all wrapped and packaged for Christmas and
nobody'll remember you had shit to do with it. If anything goes awry I'm
gonna assume you blew the whistle on us. Then I'll have my partner here pay
you a visit, no matter what beach your ass is on.
"But I don't think you're that stupid. Guys running this kind of operation
don't like employees with big mouths, even if the babbling ain't their
fault. You try to wam your Slag friends that we're on to them, all they're
gonna think is that you told us how to find them. They'll tell you thanks
a mfllion, man. Then one week you'll find yourself swimming off Catalina
with a concrete aqualung. Understand?"
Still coughing and choking, O'Neal managed a feeble nod.
"That's peachy. Don't forget it. Let's go, George."
They abandoned the technician inside the refrigeration chamber, still
rubbing his damaged throat, the drugmanufacturing apparatus glistening
uselessly around him.
This time Sykes had to run to keep pace with his partner. Eyes locked
straight ahead, Francisco was heading for the car, a runaway juggernaut.
Brain locked too, Sykes thought. Got to try and change that.
"Don't worry about O'Neal. The guy's no moron. He's not gonna run to the
nearest phone and ring up Harcourt and say, 'Hey Bill, a coupla cops were
just here and I had to tell I em where you took the junk but don't be sore
at me, okayT He'll be on the next plane south."
"I am not worried about O'Neal." Francisco's gaze did not deviate from the
path that led out of the refining complex and back to the loading dock.
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