"I have your loved ones, all of them

"I have your loved ones, all of them. I will continue to torture them until you meet my demands—you know what they are."

That tore it. This most recent note, representing the form only communication he had had with the maniac for years, was the last straw. Gabriel had dealt with this man many times before, but never before had he been so angered. Briefly he glanced at the antique sword on his wall, looking at it with a longing to use it. But no—that would be giving in to what the maniac wanted.

But the people he protected, his loved ones, they needed help in a desperate way. The only person he had to comfort him now, awkwardly, was his boss. Gabriel knew that his boss felt the same inclination, longing to have them safe and sound, back home. He had done everything he said he would, and many great victories arose out of his intercession. They had been causes for celebrations, each one lasting days. But none of them lasted.

Even among his co-workers, Gabriel could feel a sense of growing despair. Something needed to be done—as soon as possible, he hoped. Maybe his boss would finally exert himself enough to finish it.

Yes, there was no other choice. Gabriel realized that, and it only made his resolve even more firm. He decided right then to dial up his boss. "Sir," he said, slightly hesitantly. "I was wondering if we could—"

"I know what you want to talk about," came the reply. Gabriel shivered, just a bit, at his boss's uncanny ability to guess what he wanted to discuss. "Come on up to my office and we'll discuss it. I think it may be time to finish it once and for all." Gabriel breathed a sigh of relief. This was the most extraordinary news he had come across in his career.

The walk to Gabriel's boss's office was a short one, and he could not help but give thanks for the development. As he approached, the large double-doors slid open for him and he entered, trying to calm his excitement.

"Gabriel," his boss said, "it is time to finish this once and for all." Gabriel gave another silent word of thanks, and as if reading his thoughts, the boss smiled. "I know you're wondering how I'm going to accomplish this, so don't bother asking." There was a brief, but dramatic pause. The boss always had a flare for that sort of thing. "I'm sending an emissary to the maniac, to pay the ransom he demands."

"An emissary, Sir" Gabriel queried. "Are you sure that that's a good idea? That guy is pure evil. He'll probably take your emissary captive too."

"I know. My son volunteered for the job." His son? Would the boss really send his only son to pay the ransom? "I've searched for any other way possible to achieve our goals, and I've found nothing. So I'm sending him."

"Sir, I'll go, if that will help."

"No. It must be him."

Gabriel lowered his head. He knew the boss's son. He was a good man, practically perfect in every way. "They'll write songs about him, hail him as a hero once this is over… I will at least."

"Go home, get some rest. I'm sending him tonight."

Gabriel left without a word after that. The boss would need some time to fully deal with this issue. How much time, though, was the question. He would not implement the plan until he was ready. But then again, he had said tonight was the night. Gabriel spent that night in prayer for the boss's son, hoping with his heart that the plan would work.

After that night, things almost seemed tense around the workplace. The boss spent a lot of time alone, and Gabriel dared not disturb him. Days past without any news, then weeks, then months, and finally Gabriel and his co-workers thought the mission a failure. The maniac had probably taken the ransom, and then killed the boss's son.

For a while, no one spoke of it, mentioned it at all in fact. It was a taboo subject, especially in front of the boss, who rarely left his office. And then, one day who-knows-how-long later, news finally arrived when the boss left his office.

"As many of you have noticed, I've not left my office very much in a long time," he said, drawing the attention of all of his workers. "What you don't know is that I have had constant communication with my son. Now I come with grave news about his task: They crucified him today."

A chorus of low murmurs sounded throughout the office before he could shush them. "It may sound terrible, but I planned it that way. Jesus has accomplished his task, paid the price in his own blood. He paid the ransom for the world."