Hale and Carter match wits against a madman who gives his victims just 15 minutes to find a key that will unlock an incendiary device strapped to their bodies. While walking down a street, Carter notices a man in his mid-twenties getting out of his car. He looks suspiciously nervous, and his skin is glistening as though coated with something. She alerts Hale, and the pair catch up with him in a nearby bank. The man yells that there’s no time left, and behaves as if he is hearing voices. Moments later he bursts into flames. The detectives discover that he was wearing a vest stuffed with napalm, and was carrying the key to a safety deposit box. The bank manager tells them the man who opened the box account was not the same man who just died. Opening the box, they find a biometric thumbprint reader that would
have allowed the victim to unlock the vest before it exploded. The detectives eventually identify the man as Tom Wood, and interview his wife Molly, who tells them her husband had disappeared from a petrol station while she turned her back.
Meanwhile, a college student named Trip Dawkins is abducted at an ATM machine. At the lab, medical examiner Boze tells Carter and Hale that Tom had been drugged with a powerful sedative, which would have let the killer snatch him from the petrol station and strap the vest on him. He also tells them Tom was wearing an earpiece that allowed him to communicate with his abductor. Oka traces the biometric key to a store that sells surveillance equipment. The detectives interview the owner, who remembers the man who bought the biometric keys: 12 in all. Trip regains consciousness – only to discover that he’s wearing one of the deadly vests. Using the earpiece transmitter, the killer tells him he has 15 minutes to get to the other side of town and find the key that will save his life.
A patrol car notices Tim speeding through the city streets. A chase ensues, and the detectives eventually realise Trip is the perpetrator’s latest victim. He makes it to the Bay Bridge, where Hale and Carter approach him to tell him there’s nothing they can do to help – his only hope is to find the biometric key. Trip it has been hidden on a bridge support. Hale climbs onto the beam, locates the key, and manages to unlock the vest – but the timer continues counting down. Trip lays the vest on the ground, and he and Hale run for cover. The vest erupts in flames. Meanwhile the killer, John Walker, manages to abduct Carter. Cavanaugh realises that all Walker’s deadly games have played out in range of the city’s many public internet cameras. Since traffic on the sites hosting the cameras increases dramatically whenever Walker sets his game in motion, he concludes that people all over the world pay money to watch.
When Carter regains consciousness, she finds herself laying on a deserted city sidewalk. She hears Walker’s voice in her ear telling her to head east on foot – she has only 15 minutes to reach her destination. Grabbing a mobile phone from a passerby, she calls Hale to tell him where she is. Carter warns Walker that when his little game is all over, she’s going to get a gun and shoot him in the groin. Following his directions to a nearby pier, she makes it with six minutes to spare. But then another man wearing an incendiary vest runs toward her, saying he has less than two minutes left before it explodes. Carter finds the key, but realises that if they put it into the wrong vest, they’ll both die. She tells the other victim to try it, and luckily his vest opens. But the detonator on her own chest is still ticking away – can she free herself in time?
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