Category Archives: Rise of the Judge

Deadly Sins, Part Eleven

Continued from Part Ten 

Snyder exited the room, carrying a duffel bag out of the room with his clothes.

Cutler said, “Hey, Snyder. What happened to you?”

Snyder touched the bandage on his head. “I fell down the stairs.” That was the truth, or close enough to it for Sarge.



Snyder entered Emergency Ops with Insta-Starbucks in hand. Amanda acknowledged him with a grunt as cheery as she ever got on Monday Mornings. “Get busy, Private. I want something on that rapist in Atlanta turned up yesterday.”

He set his steaming mug down beside his workstation. “Why are you always like this the Monday after we visit Nero’s Tower?”

Amanda hung her head. “You might as well know. I’m losing.”

“You haven’t lost that much.”

“It adds up. My ICA is over $270,000 in the red.”

Snyder whistled. “What happened?”

“I got behind, and I keep playing, and I need to get even. I just can’t seem to win.”

Snyder nodded. Taxpayers footed the bill in order to keep the ICA system afloat, but that much debt would hinder her ability to get a mortgage or other loans. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out.”

“Like what?”

“We could try skipping the casino just this weekend, so I can figure something out.”

She placed her hands on her hips. “What are you going to figure out?”

“A way to beat the house.”

Continued…Next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Ten

Continued from Part Nine

Snyder stood on the stairwell with Amanda and a cranky Light Bird. Snyder took a deep breath as Dread ranted.

“What is the meaning of this?” Dread handed a Iboard to Captain Greywolf.

She glanced dismissively at the holographic document clipped to the Iboard. “My order promoting Snyder to Private First Class.”

Dread sneered. “Yes, I know. What did this scum do to deserve promotion? Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t call an inquiry!”

Amanda stared, unblinking, cool as a snake in the grass. “The general procedure is to promote privates after a year. Snyder was past the time he should have been promoted, and he’d helped on valuable projects.”

“My, you do a lot of projects. Anything going on that I should know about?”

Snyder took a deep breath. Amanda’s career was on the line, but Dread would find some way to put him on the end of a noose.

Amanda’s full weight fell against Snyder. He tumbled down the cement stairs, pain throbbing through his body.

Above him, Dread’s voice’s echoed, “Apparently not. As you were, Captain.”

Snyder lay on the stairs for a few minutes. His guts reeled and tears threatened. How could she do that? He’d never do that to her. Not for a million dollars, not even to save his neck from the hangman.

A familiar hand grabbed his shoulder and turned him over. Seeing it was her, Snyder backed up, like-Snyder looked around. Him, scared of a woman? No way. “Well, I love you, too.”

Her eyes held no apology. “Sorry, I panicked. I got you some healing balm. We’ll put it on, and you’ll be just like new when we go to Vegas tonight.”

Snyder nodded. That jerk Cutler didn’t know what he was talking about. It was just a panic reaction. That was all. That was all.

And that cold, calculating look in her eyes just now, that was surely just his imagination. He read into things too deeply sometimes. One of the curses of being an intuitive with high intelligence.

Continued…Next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Nine

Continued from Part Eight

Jirel paced the grounds outside the barracks. Lord, there has to be some way I can at least talk to Snyder. Even during his morning exercise and target practice, that woman is hovering all the time. Please make a way.

A stench of an earthly sort wafted his way. Burning tobacco. Snyder sat atop a picnic table, with a cigar between his fingers.

Jirel did a double take. Snyder didn’t smoke. Or at least he hadn’t. Jirel approached Snyder’s position. “I don’t believe your eighteenth birthday has come yet.”

“It’s only two days away.”

Jirel smiled. “In two days, you can smoke away. Until then, I’d rather not have to call the MPs.”

Snyder extinguished the cigar. “You’re such a stickler, Sarge.”

“Where’d you pick up cigars?”

Snyder looked down. “Some officer.”

“I see.” Jirel folded his arms. “Captain Greywolf.”

Snyder looked up at Jirel. “You know, don’t you? Of course, you’d have to be a complete idiot not to figure it out.”

Zorba snickered in his ear, “He’s got that right, Sherlock.”

Jirel snapped, “You stay out of this!”

Snyder frowned. “What?”

Jirel sighed. He’d been stuck in this tent far too long. He should’ve known Zorba wouldn’t have manifested to Snyder. “I thought I heard someone butting in. Snyder, why are you doing this?”

Snyder flicked ash from his cigar onto the cement. “Well, it’s kind of relaxing. You just go outside, light up, and smoke the world away.”

“Do you mean to tell me Captain Greywolf has had Emergency Operations open more days these past three months than in the last six years just for business?”

Snyder glared. “You going to make trouble for Amanda?”

“Dread doesn’t care.”

“What do you think?”

“There’s something very wrong with a thirty-year-old captain who goes around seducing seventeen-year old boys.”

Snyder’s glare deepened. “Look, Cutler, I’m a man. I’ve been a man since my egg donor killed my grandmother. And certainly since I was sent off to the Army.”

“You weren’t the first boy drafted and you won’t be the last. I thought you didn’t want an Army woman because that girl wanted—” Jirel covered his mouth.

Snyder stared at Jirel. “How do you know that?”

“You two weren’t arguing quietly.”

“Don’t worry. Amanda’s fixed and it’s good for three more years. She told me she would not have Native blood become a slave. Even though she’s pro-choice, I know few people who aren’t religious who are more personally anti-breeder than her.”

“Your mother and grandmother taught you better than this.”

Snyder swallowed hard. “You gonna tell Mama?”

Tempting as it was, that wasn’t the answer. “No, you’re becoming a man, and you don’t solve things with men by telling their mamas. But Snyder, this is wrong, and it’s not good for you. There’s a reason the army has rules against this, even if Dread doesn’t want to enforce them.”

“Which are?”

“First, it could create a hostile situation if you two break up.”

“Oh, that’s easy.” Snyder shrugged. “We’re not going to break up.”

Oh boy. “And then there’s the matter of preferential treatment.”

Snyder laughed. “And why would I care if I receive preferential treatment?”

“Would you like to see other people promoted because of who they slept with?”

“I’ll follow the golden rule when I’m twenty.”

“Exactly. If you displease her before your three years are up, she could send you to the gallows.”

“But Amanda wouldn’t do that.”

“Yeah, it’d be unethical. Kind of like seducing a seventeen-year-old that you have authority over. With the noose hanging over your head, how are her actions any different, morally speaking, than when a rival gang rapes a female for associating with yours?”

Continued…Next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

That night, Jirel stopped outside Emergency Ops’ door. It emanated the stench of fornication, like rotten eggs.

“About time you got here.”

Jirel turned to face Zorba.

She blew cigarette smoke in his face. “At your rate, I’d figured we’d have him in Hell before you figured out. Some guardian angel you are.”

“That’s not in my job description and you know it. What did you do?”

“Oh, Ol’ Mandy doesn’t need much help from me. All I had to do was convince her he’s Native American.” Zorba laughed. “She’s been tellin’ Anny he’s an Apache warrior.”

She said in falsetto, “Poor little boy just looking for love.”

“I’m going to stop you.”

“Too late. My work is done here. Just sticking around to bask in my victory. Mandy will destroy him, and there’s nothing you can do to stop her.”

“Watch me.”

“What about human free will?”

Jirel growled and walked away. He was wasting his time here. There were other ways.


“And what do you expect me to do about it, Sergeant?”

Jirel stared at Lieutenant Colonel Paul Dread. “I expect you to arrest her for violation of the Uniform Code of Imperial Justice, Section 3.7.2-8a, Sexual Misconduct with a Subordinate.”

 The stench of spite flew off Dread. “There’s only one way I’d prosecute. If Snyder pressed charges, alleging he was intimidated and forced into a sexual relationship.”

Jirel glowered.

Dread rubbed  hands together, bearing his teeth. “Well, Sergeant?”

Jirel saluted. “Thank you for your time, Colonel.”

Continued…Next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Seven

Continuing from Part Six

Returning from vacation three days later, Snyder headed for his old cubicle. Greywolf caught his arm. “Come on, Private. We’ve got a case in Chicago.”

They walked back to Emergency ops. Snyder took his seat. Odd. Where were the other techies? Snyder glanced questioningly at Greywolf. She smiled. He squirmed.

She didn’t have work on her mind.


Jirel drummed his fingers on his quarter’s desk, turned to face Smith in the HV window.

Smith shook his head. “There’s nothing on any of these girls. Nothing at all.”

“There’s got to be something. Zorba always has a plan, and it’s usually predictable. She’ll be attached to a fellow techie and make her move in the break room, at meal times, or maybe during PT.”

“Well, you’ve not seen any evidence to suggest anything like that.”

Jirel grimaced. “I’ve barely seen Snyder for three months. He’s been on all these emergency ops and then back to his room just long enough to pack his duffel bag and go on leave.”

“He doesn’t sleep in his room?”

“Apparently not. I asked his NCO, and he suggested I was being a nursemaid.”

“What’s his XO’s name?”

Jirel’s mouth went agape. “Smith, that’s it. His XO. I should have realized it sooner, but the last time I dealt with Zorba, women couldn’t hold such positions. But what better way to trap him?”

Continued…Next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Snyder sat at the desk near his two colleagues, Private Timothy Harjo and Private Lomattube McIntosh, on the third day of their investigation. Snyder took a sip of insta-Starbucks, black with brown sugar. Why did he always end up being the only white guy? At least he hadn’t taken any punishment for being the wrong color. So far. Hard experience made it difficult to think it could last.

Still, it was odd. Counting Captain Greywolf, there was a grand total of three Native Americans on base. Plus Snyder had gone through personnel files on a quiet day, and Harjo and McIntosh were middling performers. He could think of about sixty people who would have made more sense, performance-wise. So why these two?

A bulletin from the LAPD appeared on Snyder’s screen, as well as that of his compatriots. Apparently, an elderly blind man had reported a woman screaming, a man shouting, and the sound of blows. He approached with his seeing eye dog, and the perp fled with the woman screaming, “Let me go!” The blind man heard a car squealing away.

Captain Greywolf cursed. “Great! He strikes in broad daylight, and our only witness is blind. We don’t have a description of the car or the suspect.”

Snyder tapped on his workstation’s touch screen. “Maybe we can get one.” He pulled up the traffic cam network. “That call came in on the blind guy’s phone at 11:09. Maybe there’s a traffic cam nearby.”

He pulled up on his workstation the traffic cam nearest the reported location, rewound to 11:07, and played forward at 120% speed. Sure enough, at 11:08, the camera captured a man shoving a woman in his car. “Bingo!”

Greywolf pressed a button on her headset. “We have something.”

Snyder zoomed in on the license plate number. “It’s a Blue Honda Hybrid Carouser, California License Plate 4CBM299 and it turned East on Mulholland Drive.”

Greywolf relayed the information to Detective French.

Snyder stared at a DMV result for the license plate and quickly memorized the ICA number. “It’s registered to Jeremy Warwick, who lives out on Laurel Canyon Blvd.”

Greywolf rubbed her hands together. “We can follow these traffic cams and get this guy.”

“Um, I need to use the latrine.” Snyder looked over at his colleagues. “Can you two handle this?”

Harjo nodded. “No problem.”

Snyder headed to the bathroom. By the time Greywolf’s plan worked, the victim could be dead. But the faster way Snyder wasn’t supposed to know about.

Inside the bathroom, he reached inside his dress uniform’s jacket and pulled out an old-fashioned Pocket PC linked to the work console in his quarters, which he wasn’t supposed to have set up, either. Using the password he’d hijacked from the Steward’s deceased predecessor, Snyder tapped into the IBI mainframe, and a top secret Intelligence tool: the ICA trackers. He put in the suspect’s ICA number.

Most citizens had no idea that when they got “tagged” with a free Imperial Commerce Account microchip, a little nasty came with it: a tracking device that could pinpoint their location in seconds in the city.

Of course, smart criminals fled into the wilderness. There, a precise fix took minutes rather than seconds and ironclad green tape kept out the law and the law-abiding. Even air traffic had to fly around environmentalists’ sacred revirginized wildernesses, lest they disturb the local wildlife. Curiosity was dying to know if Donovan the Environmentalist consciously knew this provided safe havens for the folks he was supposed to hang, or willfully blinded himself to it.

Still, the Empire didn’t want this tracking system to become public knowledge. People would be less likely to accept tagging if they knew they were getting Big Brother implanted in their wrists. Besides the regional IBI directors and top Imperial officials, a select few Army Intelligence officers had clearance on this, most of them  embedded with the IBI. The system was  not “wasted” on catching rapists, but saved for “real” threats, like any political dissidents and terrorists stupid enough to be tagged.

Snyder looked down at his hand and smiled. If anyone ever decided to track him, they’d be in for a nasty surprise. Grandma had dutifully tagged him as a baby—with a black market chip sold to her without having to sign the blasphemous loyalty oath to Herald. Mama Borden learned about the tracking devices during her double agent days and took care of his. She had to have her own tag removed when she retired and settled in Boise. Her church there had a zero tolerance policy on tags.

The system reported the serial killer’s location, turning right down Park Glenn Drive. The jam-packed LA lunch traffic worked in their favor.

Snyder pulled up the Dispatch command center for the LAPD, and turned Password Breaker on. Twenty seconds later, he was in. He put in a dispatch command, entering the license plate of the vehicle with this note: “Suspect vehicle seen turning right off Mulholland onto Glenn Park Drive.”

Snyder turned off the Pocket PC and returned to the Emergency Ops room. The crew were still switching cameras off Mulholland Drive, watching archived video of the suspect’s car.

“Gentlemen,” said Captain Greywolf. “The vehicle is now headed down Glenn Park Drive, officers in pursuit.”

Snyder settled in at his workstation and smiled.

Within two hours, the police had the suspect in custody.

Continued…Next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Five

Continued from Part Four

Two weeks into the reign of Greywolf, Snyder sat at his workstation. At footsteps, he glanced over his shoulder. Captain Greywolf was walking up the stairs.

Man, she had better not be here to razz him about how he’d handled his assignment. Corporal Jones had been over twice so Snyder could demonstrate how, with a 175 IQ, you could handle these misfired e-mails in  forty-five seconds. This sort of nonsense was why he dropped out of high school.

Greywolf stood at Snyder’s desk. “Private, come with me.”

Snyder stood and followed her down the stairs. Snyder swallowed hard. What if she’d found out about him covering for Christians? Would he hang in Boise, or would they hang him here?

Greywolf led him down the hall past the break room to a closet door. She turned. “Do you know what’s behind this door?”

“Let me guess. It’s not a closet.”

Greywolf ran her hand along the side of the door. The door slid up. Inside was a dimly lit room with a double wide recliner, three workstations, and two other techies at work already.

“Welcome to the Emergency Ops room, Private. We call this room into operation at my discretion. The Los Angeles Police Department and the IBI are hunting for a serial killer raping and killing women. We’re going to provide them some assistance.”

“Makes for a nice change of pace.”

“We’ll be working longer shifts until this is brought to a conclusion. You’ll work from 0800 to 2030. Once this is wrapped up, you’ll be given a day off for every day here.”

Snyder cracked his knuckles. “Let’s get to work.”

Continued next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Four

Continued from Part Three

Snyder settled at his work station.  Captain Greywolf exited the restroom. He stood and saluted.

She said, “At ease. So, how did your vacation go?”


“What’d you do?”

“Laser tag, caught a movie.” Not at the modern holotheatre; he’d played laser tag there. Las Vegas had an old style theater that played classical films on the big screen. That kind of thing he didn’t admit to being interested in; especially not back in Boise.

Greywolf laughed. “You mean no trips to the casinos or the bars, not even a public harem?”

“Not my scene.” Plus if he was caught in a casino or a bar at seventeen, at least off duty, Colonel Dread would write him up and the State of Idaho would execute him.

“Don’t swing that way, Private?”

This was a completely inappropriate question. But with a death warrant hanging over his head, fighting the power wasn’t smart. “Permission to speak freely?”

“Of course.”

“Real men don’t have to pay for it.”

Greywolf smiled. “I got a letter today from the Las Vegas PD extending thanks to me and Army Intelligence command for the invaluable assistance rendered by Private Snyder in apprehending Jeremy Gleason, a murder suspect.”

The cops were more open to his assistance as a solider than as a thug. “Yeah, that actually beat laser tag. He ran into the movie theatre, and it looked like the officers could use some help. I pulled out my Army Intelligence badge, and they were glad to accept.”

“You have an Army Intelligence badge?”

“It’s available from the department’s store. Non-field Intelligence personnel have to pay for it. I found the sixty dollars well worth it.”

“I’ll slip this in your permanent file,” said Captain Greywolf. “Dread wanted me to burn it. He doesn’t like you; says you’re a juvenile delinquent.”

“Well, I don’t like him, either; he’s an adult delinquent.”

She sent a piercing look at him.

Snyder smiled. “You never revoked the permission to speak freely.”

“That I didn’t. Now I do. Be seated.” Greywolf jogged down the stairs.

Snyder sat down. Moments later, on his computer screen, the seal of the Empire popped up with an order to stand at attention. The startled cries resounding all across the rows seemed more appropriate to high schoolers than soldiers. Snyder turned to face down hill and stood at attention, as did most of the Privates on his row.

One stared back at his workstation, mouth agape. “Ah, I was about to cream that space alien!”

Greywolf stood at the rail lining the bottom of the seating area, with her arms behind her back. “Sadly, this is a more effective way to get your attention. When I came in here firing an automatic weapon, you sat there, totally ignoring me. If real terrorists had come here, those of you who survived would have Private Snyder to thank.”

“The risk of actual terrorism is small. But what can’t happen to you, can happen to the Imperial citizens expecting us to keep them safe. We’re expected to issue a response to each detected threat in three minutes. You are averaging four minutes!

“Quality Assurance tells me some of you rapidly dismiss threats without assessing them while others let them go ignored for half an hour. This stops today! Meet your assessment goals, or you will no longer be part of Army Intelligence.”

She scanned over the rows of raised seating. “I see a lot of sagging guts hanging over these workstations. You like those comfy chairs in an air conditioned facility? If you want to keep them, fall in line. Otherwise you’ll be on your way to the Phoenix Infantry station. Do you know how hot it gets in Phoenix? Forty-three degrees on a cool day, and I will ensure you are given outdoor duty every day from mid-March until mid-September.”

Snyder jolted at the temperature, but then smiled sheepishly. Greywolf meant forty-three degrees Celsius. Or 110 degrees in Fahrenheit, an outdated measurement used by patriotic Americans.

Greywolf continued. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are the first line of defense for Earth and her citizens. This isn’t a game. If you want to do your jobs, I’ll give you every liberty possible. If you want to play games, get your butts out of those seats and let’s put people in there who are serious about their responsibilities.”

Continued next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Snyder stared at the thirty marks on the wall of his cell in the brig. He looked at his watch. It’d been another minute. He made another mark. Thirty-one minutes. He’d go crazy if he didn’t hang first.

The door at the end of the hall opened. A Native American woman dressed in a captain’s uniform with a bandaged hand walked down the aisle with a guard. “Sergeant, unlock the door,” said the captain.

The sergeant unlocked the door and the captain entered the cell.

Snyder saluted, but suspected he still looked more like a sullen, dissed gangsta. Something about being in a jail cell made him feel more like the Commanders’ President Snyder than Private Snyder.

The captain returned his salute with her good hand. “At ease, Private. Sorry about the arrest. That was Lieutenant Peterman’s natural instinct, and I was too ticked off at the time to contradict him. I don’t know if you’ve ever been shot, but I assure you it’s quite painful. Now that I’ve got some healing balm, I feel much better.”

Lady, I’m a gang leader playing soldier to dodge a hate crime rap. Of course I’ve taken a bullet, and a knife or three, too. But they got what they gave out and then some. “I can handle it.”

The captain looked over at the marks on the wall. “One mark for every minute. Nice way of handling it, Private.”

Snyder glared. Don’t tease me, lady.

The captain stared at his face. “I do have a question, Private. The service revolver is not part of your uniform as a tech. Do you always carry your weapon with you?”

If my homeboys and I had been carrying the day the 5-O nabbed me for sentencing a child molester to hang, I might not be in this cell or this stupid army.

He would have been carrying, except Mama Borden found his piece and seized it. That woman’s crying had landed him defending his turf with pea shooters. A mistake he wouldn’t make again. “When I sleep, I put the safety on and keep the Colt underneath my pillow.”

“Well, then.” The captain extending his Colt to him. “I wouldn’t want you to miss it.”

Snyder grabbed the gun and put it in his holster.

“You’re free to go and you have a thirty-six hour pass.”

Snyder suppressed a grin, stood at attention, and saluted. “Thank you, ma’am.”

The captain started to walk away, but turned around. “I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced. I’m Captain Amanda Greywolf.”

“Private A. L. Snyder.”

“Snyder?” she said. “That’s German, you know.”

Thanks for rubbing that in. “My grandmother never missed Oktoberfest.”

“I’ll see you around, Private.”

Continued next Thursday

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Deadly Sins, Part Two

Continued from Part One

Private A. L. Snyder walked through Hecht’s courtyard on his way to work, past the statue of the Emperor. He took a quick glance around and spat out a wad of chewing gum that “accidentally” landed on the empty pedestal beside the loathsome idol.

May the traitor rot in Hell and Old Harry join him sooner rather than later.

Ironically, other than the getting hanged for a hate crime if the Light Bird got his way thing, the army itself had been the best thing that ever happened to him. He’d just keep telling himself he was serving his country and his commander in chief rather than the current Steward’s master.

Sergeant Jirel Cutler walked up to Snyder. Snyder saluted.

Cutler said, “At ease, private. I was just wondering, how you are doing?”

What was this? Sarge was acting weird. “Fine, I guess.”

“Good, anything new going on? New hobby or new girlfriend?”

“Girlfriend?” Snyder shook his head. His last girlfriend wanted him to knock her up so she could sell the kid to a breeder for research. “Army chicks are not my type.”

Relief filled Cutler’s eyes. “Glad to hear it. Okay, carry on.”

Uh-huh. “Talk to you later, Sarge.” Snyder paused. “Oh, and, since that question is probably next, I’m not on drugs. My gang’s thing is defending our turf. Getting high would be counterproductive.”

Plus Mama Borden and Cerulean would take turns boxing my ears if I started using.

He strode inside the Intelligence operations center. He walked up the stairs twenty-six levels to his seat by the girl’s bathroom. Technically, the restrooms were unisex, but the ironclad rule of self-segregation dictated that the female soldiers used the upstairs facilities and male soldiers the downstairs. He turned on his station.

“So, I told him he could just forget about it,” said a female private walking out of the restroom on Snyder’s left, past the five cubicles on that side of the aisle.

“Reminds me of my ex-boyfriend; a total jerk,” said her friend. “He’s so irresponsible. When is he going to grow up?”

They stopped three feet from Snyder’s cubicle, as if trying to annoy him.

The first chick said, “That’s the thing. He still hasn’t paid his part of the rent. I said to him, ‘Look, I can’t pay this all my self.’ And he keeps telling me he’s going to get it, and he never—”

Snyder stood. “Excuse me. Did the memo changing this to the break room get caught in my spam filter?”

The first chick snorted. “Well, there’s no reason for you to act like a jerk.”

The two walked down the stairs. Snyder sat down his cube.

The bathroom door swung open to Snyder’s left. Two women exited.

“So, my mom expects me to get leave to go back for the wedding.”

“She’s being totally selfish,” said the other woman. “You have your own life.”

Snyder whispered a curse for Lt. Colonel Paul Dread. Dread kept him stuck with this lame seat assignment even though most techies moved off this row after a month. Snyder had important work to do.

The Imperial Security Monitoring system came up, ready to deliver fresh alerts of potential dangers to the Empire. Mostly, false alarms. However, there were more important things to do while he waited. He pulled up a browser. What should he do?

Hack into Old Harry’s Bank Account to see what he had? Nah, did that yesterday. Probably hadn’t changed that much. Change the front page of ABS news? Too risky. Not twice in the same month, anyway. The White House? Nah, too easy.

Donovan the Steward’s top secret daybook. Hmm, that was always fun.

Snyder cracked the encryption in three minutes. Donovan the Martial Arts Master had a work out on his lawn at 04:30.

Donovan the American University History Professor had an 08:15 class to teach, skipping the Senate hearing calendar as usual. He only bothered to play Senator when something interesting was happening.

Donovan the Steward was to be at the U.S. Senate at Noon to sit in on the Liberal Party policy lunch. That afternoon he had a bunch of short meetings scheduled at the White House, one of them with the President, and in between two speeches, one at 15:30 and one at 17:30.

A third speech would be given around 20:30 at a fundraiser for a Conservative Party U.S. Senator. That the Steward actually sold his boss on his non-combative, bipartisan, moderate approach to politics was only one more reason among many that Donovan was Snyder’s hero.

Two blocks were marked as open time: 10-11:30 and 22-23:30. Snyder snickered. “Open Time” meant “babe time.”

America’s favorite former child prodigy—this teenage soldier didn’t consider a twenty-two-year-old a child—must have thought “open time” would hide from historians how he spent his sacred free time.

Probably more reflected a desire for an elusive private life. Considering he had the degrees to prove the high IQ, Donovan had to know he had far too big a reputation as a womanizer to keep that tidbit secret from History.

Hmm. What next? He could hack his siblings’ e-mails for more proof they had no right to look down on him. Or he could tap into Boise High’s security cameras to find shots of the sweetheart Mama Borden wouldn’t let him date because he was a white, gang-banging, former Catholic altar boy, and his girl the preacher’s daughter at Mama’s black Baptist church. Keisha’s daddy wouldn’t have liked it, either.

Nah, he’d had enough of that sort of torture for the week.

Always the Imperial weapons lab. They always had something fun to read about. Mostly, re-introducing old weapons as cutting edge and getting paid handsomely for it. This regurgitation had all started with movies, and just got worse from there. Snyder shuddered at the thought of the 1990s Brady Bunch movie he’d mistakenly downloaded.

A shot redounded in the building.

Snyder hit the floor and peaked out into the center aisle. At the very bottom of the stadium seats, a terrorist was firing a machine gun into the air. Snyder crawled quickly down the stairs. A male private on row twenty said, “Are you crazy?”

Snyder continued on to row ten. The enemy appeared to be a Native American woman. Snyder pulled his Colt from his hip holster and fired. The shot hit the woman’s hand and knocked the gun away. She let off a string of curses that would’ve made even Snyder blush on another occasion.

The enemy moved to get her gun.

Snyder ran down, aiming the Colt for the enemy’s heart. “Freeze or you’re dead.”

Lieutenant Peterman came running in. “What’s going on here?”

Snyder kept his gun trained on the enemy. “Forgive me for not saluting, but we have a terrorist shooting up the facility.”

“Good work, Private. Now hand over your service revolver. You’re under arrest.”

Snyder arched his eyebrows. “Say what?”

Peterman snatched the Colt. “She fired blanks to illustrate your lack of readiness. Congratulations, Private. You just shot your new XO.”

Continued here.

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