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He shuffled the papers in his hand, went on. "According to the reports, three officers will have died under your guns. We've made up life histories for them, all very touching. Two of them had large families and one had a brother who was a priest We've put together composite photographs of various real officers to release to the press.

Later tonight, word will be flashed to an outraged nation that you have died on the operating table. Even though you slaughtered the howler crew and three other policemen, we were trying to save you, see? Now, the first order of business today is for you to come along and help us film the operating room sequences. A double won't work in bright lights. I hope you can die convincingly, or at least pretend to look dead while you're lying there.

Otherwise, you'll have to be drugged for it.

He stopped, watching me. It was time for my part, and my lines were crystal clear to me. "Look, how about a bargain," I said. I sounded fairly desperate.

He smiled. He was eating this up. Morsf.a.gen's weakness was not in his rigid acceptance of military codes and consensus views, but in his need for power over other human beings, his delight at being on top of another man.

I was giving him exactly what he wanted.

Maybe he would just hang himself with it.

"I fail to see," he said, "just what you have to bargain with." He motioned around at the windowless walls.

"Something you don't know," I said. "Something that, if you knew, would help you a great deal."

He frowned, smiled again. "And what would you want for this valuable piece of information?"

"My freedom. Melinda's freedom. We'd stay in the city.

I'd do whatever you want."

"Oh, I hardly believe you would," he said.

"Look, Morsf.a.gen, I'm not kidding you. I have something to tell you that could make a very big difference to the Alliance. I am not lying, and you must believe that."

"I'd love to hear it," he said, dragging this out to relish every moment of my groveling. "But you must choose some other reward besides your freedom."

"Let the girl and me live here together. At least don't keep us in separate apartments."

He smiled, seemed to consider it. "All right. She is some nice piece, I'll tell you. That ought to be a big enough reward. Now tell me what this secret is?"

I started to speak, then stopped abruptly, just as I had planned, examining him with a great deal of suspicion. I must have looked pathetic, hunched there on the edge of the bed, unshaven, trying to bargain for petty favors that would come without question to a free man. It was the image I wanted him to have of me. "How do I know I can trust you?" I asked. "How do I know you'll keep your promise?"

He laughed sharply, deeply. "You don't."

"But that's not right!" I said. There was just the edge of a whine in my voice. I was a broken man, yes I was. I was just so many pieces for him to break further into dust.

"Fairness doesn't apply he

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