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He had been half expecting the call, and when the black phone on his desk began to ring, Sam Reese sat glaring at it for a moment before answering. He knew that any news arriving this late would be bad news and he braced himself for the worst.

He was not disappointed.

The caller reported shooting, out at Seiji Kuwahara's place in Paradise. They said it sounded like a goddamn war was going on out there — and Reese had no doubt they were probably correct. He cursed and cradled the receiver with more force than necessary. There had been a time when Paradise Valley was out of his jurisdiction, back before the Clark County Sheriff's Office had merged with metro. But now the shooting war at Kuwahara's had been placed directly in his lap. The homicide detective had to deal with it while he had a chance to end the carnage with a swift decisive stroke.

LaMancha's words came back to him like haunting prophecy, and Reese cursed again as he snared his jacket en route to the door. He wondered where the big Fed was, and what he had to do with this, if anything. Most likely he was shacked up in a plush hotel suite somewhere, riding out the storm and taking time between his cocktails to type up a fine report about the inefficiency of Metro's tactical response. Well, screw him.

Reese was rolling now, and there were SWAT teams on the way already. Every black-and-white within a five-mile radius was on its way to Kuwahara's with sirens screaming. In another couple of minutes, the joint would look like a goddamned metro convention, and Reese planned to kick some ass when he got there.

It would be terrible if Kuwahara and Spinoza should get caught in the cross fire and both end up in drawers down at the county morgue. Too much to hope for, and yet.

This might just be the end of Seiji Kuwahara's plans in Vegas. Some good might come from this, some chance for Sam Reese and his town to settle back to normal.

He put the thought out of his mind, concentrating on the grim reality of the present situation.

He was about to step into a killing zone, something he had not faced since Korea, and he knew that he would need full concentration to see him through the coming hours.

And where was Mack Bolan when you needed him?

The question came up out of nowhere, circled several times around the homicide captain's subconscious before it broke the surface like a cruising dorsal fin. As quickly as it formed, he put the thought out of mind, a little shudder racing down his spine.

That was the last thing he needed now, damn right.

Another wild man in the streets when he already had two frigging armies at each other's throats. The very last thing in the world.

And still.

He hit the double doors to the garage, already calling out to the stray uniforms who were standing around waiting to begin or end their shifts. They would be going with him, filling in the ranks for what looked like the biggest sit-down bloodfeast in Las Vegas history. And there would be enough to go around for everybody, he was sure, perhaps with seconds for the hungry ones.

Goddammit, and the thought was back, refusing just to die and blow away like desert sand.

Where was Mack Bolan when you needed him?


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