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“Updates?” comes the crisp question. Slatt spots black boots in a reflection and thinks, SWAT. Sure.

“Fifteen minutes until the next scheduled call,” he says without turning. “We’re trying to get a dye pack together, see if they’ll take bag man’s offer–”

“Prediction: dead hostage. Two hours.”

“Well, why don’t you go get them?” He means it ironically.

“Fifteen minutes. Yes.” The voice is dead calm. Slatt, cold in realization, turns at last: not SWAT after all…

The Ad Hoc moves, then, improbably quick, flickering toward the barricade like a bad special effect. Slatt shivers. Those guys freak him out.