Johnson stepped in. Vincent took the lanky student in with a quick glance. A moment later, he noticed Johnson’s hand in his coat pocket—curled into a fist around something.

“This is Mr. Gaines,” Bernard said. “He’s as interested as I am in hearing what you’ve found.

As interested as Bernard was in stealing the data and slapping his name on the paper that contained it perhaps. Johnson nodded, but not at what his fraud of a professor had said—it was a gesture of his own resolve.

“I’ve got something else to show you,” Johnson said. His hand tightened around the automatic in his pocket.

In a flash, Vincent saw what was going on, and felt for his .38. Joliet hadn’t asked for it back, and the gun was still slung in a shoulder holster beneath Vincent’s jacket.

“Gilvery says hello,” Johnson grunted. Bernard’s eyes widened at the sight of the gun, and he dropped behind his desk.

Johnson’s first shot was clumsy, blasting a hole in a window frame and showering the room with splinters.

Vincent had his own weapon out a moment later, and fired. A dark spot appeared on Johnson’s shirt sleeve; the student screamed and stumbled backwards, pulling the trigger blindly as he went.

None of his shots found their mark, but Vincent was startled enough to drop behind Bernard’s desk, putting as much solid oak as he could between himself and the attacker.

“Wh-” Bernard whimpered.

“Quiet,” hissed Vincent. He scanned the room, pistol at the ready, but there were no further shots.

Gingerly, he stood up and crept to the door. A brown parcel was on the secretary’s desk, but there was no sign of Johnson. A moment later, Vincent noticed a trail of blood droplets leading out the door and down the hall. The elevator whirred open and clanged shut just as he made the connection.

“Is there a telephone in this office?” Vincent said.

“I…I…” Bernard stuttered.

“Is there?”

The professor continued to blubber, offering nothing coherent. Vincent cursed and jogged for the stairs.

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