Countdown, Part Fifteen

 Continued from Part Fourteen

Snyder sat at the workstation and located files with the names of all the leaders Rawlings was going to contact and an outline of her plan. He transferred onto his poc-ket computer every relevant file besides the virus formula. “Done.”

Kendell pulled an audio recorder from her pocket and recited the date. “We are examining the computer of Dr. Toyota Rawlings.”

Rawlings snickered. “Wow, that sur-vived your fall.”

Kendell snarled. “Wide record mode. Dr. Rawlings, we’ve copied relevant materials from your computer in accordance with the Imperial Anti-Crime Decree of 72 YE. Do you have any exculpatory material that you would like us to copy as well?”

“Preserve my manifesto, ‘The plague of man.’ It’s a multimedia presentation.”

 “Private, allow the suspect’s request.”

“Yes, Sergeant.”

Snyder found it in the masterpiece folder and copied it over. A red light flashed on his pocket computer.  “For the record, I note a virus was on the file, but the file has been cleansed.”

Kendell said, “It is so noted. Have you completed the suspect’s request?”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“Let the record reflect all relevant data has been captured. End of log.” Kendell pushed a button. “Snyder, permanently delete all files on her computer.”

“Sarge, permanent deletion is imposs-ible without the right equipment.”

Kendell reached in Snyder’s bag. “Do the best you can and then I’ll do my part. Where’s the hard drive?”

“Right under the desk.”

Kendell nodded. “Good.”

Snyder formatted the hard drive.

“Up.” Kendell affixed a charge to the side of the workstation.

“What are you doing, Sarge?”

“A permanent deletion. We’ve got thirty seconds, let’s get out of here!”

Snyder, Kendell, and Rawlings raced out of the room. All three hit floor, as the explosion rocked the compound.

“Dread should hear that.” Kendell stood and pointed her gun at Rawlings. “Up. You too, Snyder.”

This lady’s crazy. “Sarge, did you hit your head when you came down?”

Rawlings laughed. “You don’t know why she’s doing this, do you?”

They walked into a hallway full of pipes, ahead of the line of knives.

Rawlings said, “She doesn’t want the virus to fall into the hands of your precious empire. She knows what Herald would do with it.”

Kendell frowned. “All right, move.”

“I’m moving, toots. Herald uses a bazooka to kill a fly. Herald would love to send a few souls dedicated to solving the human problem to solve his Christian problem in areas where they’re a sizeable and annoying minority. He’d get to blame it on the Christians to boot.”

Snyder gaped. Rawlings made sense, too much sense.

“Oh, and don’t forget, as many do, Gaia is the Most High’s consort. Her de-votees are due’s paying, loyal members of the United Church of Herald. I will help his avatar. I might not get to reduce the human population by 90% now, but even a quarter will make a difference. We won’t go to the gallows. Herald will have custody of a woman who’s memorized her formula for an unstoppable biological weapon and my army of willing carriers.”

Kendell readied her rifle. “Maybe I won’t let you get that far.”

Snyder gasped. “Sarge, don’t you see all these pipes? You fire into one of them and you provide her a chance to get away.”

Kendell sighed. “Yeah, and I’m no murderer.”

Rawlings shrugged. “You could just let me go. I’m not going to be able to get in touch with my people before you get the IBI out there. I’ll have to start from scratch.”

“I have my duty. Move it, Doc”

Continued Next Thursday

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