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this?" Girard asked. "I'm Police Inspector Girard. He has your family as hostages?"

"Yes. He sent me out to get some things. He said if I wasn't back in an hour, he would start to hurt them. It's been almost an hour."

"What did he send you for?"

"Train tickets. Some food. Please, I have to take them to him."

"I'll help with that," Garibaldi offered.


"Look, we've already got your place surrounded."

"Don't you hear me? He'll kill them."

Garibaldi looked at Girard. "Gas? What? There's gotta be some way to get him out of there."

"Without endangering the family?" Girard replied. "I much doubt that. Why not wait until he leaves, in the morning? We know what train he's taking, now."

"Just one problem with that. He'll scan Paul here when he gets upstairs and get an instant replay of this whole conversation. Who knows what he'll do then?"

"You did it on purpose," Paul said heatedly. "Spoke to me on purpose. To trap me."

Garibaldi shrugged. "It ain't pretty. But look, this guy just mindfragged his girlfriend for Chrissakes. You think he's gonna even blink with you guys? Man, every second he's with your family they're in danger. You think he's just gonna walk away from the three of you, especially after he sent you to get train tickets for him? No way. All three of you are dead or as good as dead without us. We're the only thing between you and Bester, and you'd better believe it."

"That's the problem," Paul said. "You aren't between us. There is nothing between him and my little boy. Nothing."

"Well, then. Let's put our heads together and see what we can come up with, then. And, considering your deadline is almost here, I think it oughta be pretty fast, don't you?"

* * *

Bester felt a sudden flash of heat that had nothing

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