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evidence and build cases. You, on the other hand, are a citizen. Your duty, however you might resent it,
is to obey the law and give what assistance you can to my investigation. That VE pak was taken from a
crime scene, which makes it evidence-and I'd be very annoyed if anyone tampered with it before handing
it in."
"If I can get the VE pak for you," Damon said bluntly, "will you drop all the charges against Madoc and
Diana?"
"That's not my decision," Yamanaka replied unyieldingly.
Damon gritted his teeth and paused for a few seconds, instructing himself to remain calm. "What else?"
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he asked. "What's happened to heat things up?"
"We've found another body," the inspector told him bleakly.
"Karol's?" Damon asked, although he knew that was the lesser of the two probable evils.
"No-Silas Arnett's. He was found in a body bag dumped in the middle of a road up in the Hollywood
Hills. Police officers conducting a routine search of the neighborhood found a chair identical to that
displayed in the first broadcast tape in a house nearby. There were bloodstains on some recently severed
straps that had been used to bind a man's wrists and ankles to the chair. There were several spy eyes in
the walls of the room, all of them on short loop times. The tapes we've recovered show Arnett being shot
in the chest while still confined. The man in the body bag died from exactly such a gunshot-without his
internal technology, he had no effective defenses against such an injury."
Damon was silent for a few moments, absorbing this news.
"Does the tape show the shooter?" he asked.
"Yes, but he's unidentifiable. His suitskin had a face mask. He had a companion, similarly masked."
"But you think they're Eliminators-and you suspect that the VE pak left on the burned body will be a
similar record of an execution."
"The body bag was presumably placed in the road in order to draw attention to the house, and to the
tape," Yamanaka said. "That seems consonant with the hypothesis that the shooting was the work of
Eliminators."
Damon couldn't be sure whether the careful wording was routine scrupulousness, or whether Yamanaka
was laying down a red carpet for any alternative explanation Damon might have to offer. Damon had
already laid the groundwork for a rival account by suggesting that the burned body Madoc had found
wasn't Nahal's at all but merely some dummy tricked out to seem like Nakal's, possibly designed by
Nahal himself-but Silas Arnett's body hadn't been burned to a crisp.
We haven't killed anyone, the mirror man had said-but he had certainly exposed the people he had
named to the danger of Eliminator attack. Now Karol's boat had been blown up, and Silas Arnett had
been shot. If Conrad Helier had faked his own death, perhaps he had faked those incidents too-but that
if was looming larger by the minute. Nor was Silas the only one who had been exposed to possible
Eliminator wrath by the mirror man's stupid broadcasts. Damon was the only one alive who had been
forthrightly condemned as an "enemy of mankind."
There was still a possibility, Damon told himself, that this was all a game, all a matter of carefully
contrived illusions piled up tit-for-tat-but if it weren't, he could be in big trouble. The question was: what
did he intend to do about it?
"Your people always seem to be one step behind, Mr. Yamanaka," he observed, by way of making
time to think.
"So it seems," the inspector agreed. "I think it might help if you were to tell us everything you know,
don't you? Surely even you must see that the time has come to give us the VE pak."
It was the "even you" that did it. Damon felt that he had troubles enough without insult being added to
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injury.
"I don't have it," he snapped. "I don't have anything that you could count as evidence."
Yamanaka's image didn't register any overt trace of disappointment or annoyance, but the lack of
display had to be a matter of pride. Yamanaka still had one card up his sleeve, and he didn't hesitate to
play it in spite of its meager value. "Miss Caisson is very anxious to contact you, Mr. Hart," he said. "I'm
sure she'd be grateful if you'd return her calls."
"Thanks for your concern," Damon said dryly. "I'll do that. Please call me if you have any more news."
He broke the connection and immediately called the number Diana had inscribed on his answering
machine in letters of fire that were only a little less clamorous than Interpol's formal demand.
The LAPD's switchboard shunted him into a VE very different from the one Hiru Yamanaka had
employed: a pseudophotographic image in which Diana was seated in a jail cell behind a wall of virtual
glass. Fortunately, she seemed more relieved than angry to see him. She hadn't forgiven him anything, but
she was desperate for contact with the outside world.
"I've just been talking to Yamanaka," Damon said, by way of preemptive self-protection. "I told him to
charge you and bail you if he wasn't prepared simply to release you, but he won't do it. He's got dead
bodies piling up all over the place, and he wants Madoc badly. He'll be forced to let you go eventually,
but you'll have to be patient."
"This is crazy, Damon," Diana complained. "They must know that we didn't kill the guy. We didn't even
know the body was there."
"They know you didn't kill him," Damon reassured her. "What on earth possessed you to go there?
Why was Madoc fool enough to let you?" [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]