Countdown, Part Nine

Continued from Part Eight

Snyder marched through Lolo National Forest with Kendell, Morgan, and Dread.

Morgan said, “Your wilderness training has come in handy, Snyder. Dread, I have to compliment you. How many Army Intelligence officers have gone through this training?”

Dread coughed. “Snyder, how far until we make it to this compound?”

Snyder smirked. “Sir, we should be right on top of it.”

Morgan frowned.  “You didn’t answer my question, Dread.”

“None, sir,” Dread mumbled.


Snyder stared at his person detector. The official story insisted the device tracked traces of DNA, but it actually received tran-smissions from the ICA chips implanted in the wrists of everyone but Christians and terrorists, which the Empire considered re-dundant. A light came on, indicating the presence of a human being within 300 yards.

Snyder said, “Sir, we getting close. Maintain silence.”

They crept on. The detector picked up ten live persons and six hundred recently deceased. The ICA chip transmitted when vital signs had ceased for up to thirty days to make it easy to locate bodies in a disaster. Snyder stared ahead at the wire fence surrounding the compound.

Kendell wrinkled her nose. “What’s with all the dead bodies?”

Snyder grimaced. “Today’s endgame. All but those needed to see this through have either killed themselves, or were killed one.”

Kendell shook her head.

Dread chortled. “On the bright side, this will help the retirement trust fund.”

Everyone stared at Dread.

He shook his head. “Death is a fact of life. You figure what advantage to make of it.”

Morgan said, “Right now, I want to figure out how to get over that fence.”

Snyder laughed. “That’s what she wants, sir. Look at the grass around the compound. It’s not been disturbed in months, but surely she has been in and out of that place a dozen times. My gut says, even if you can get over that fence, you’ll get killed by what she’s got hidden on the other side. It’s a booby trap. She’s coming in underground.”

“Then we need to find the tunnel.”

“Actually, our builder friend is in the habit of storing blueprints on his network drive. If I don’t miss my guess, a hundred yards west of here, we can break through without compromising the integrity of the tunnel.”

“Lead the way, private.” Morgan added in a whisper, “Snyder, did you dis-cover Dimitrov’s treachery?”

Snyder nodded. How had this guy figured it out?

“That’s what I thought.”

After a hundred yards, Dread said, “Okay, Snyder, Kendell, start digging.”

Morgan glared. “Dread, we brought three shovels. Dig.”

Dread glowered. “Yes, sir!”

In fifteen minutes, the three dug through three feet of dirt to the under-ground passage. Morgan slapped Snyder’s back. “Excellent work, private. Now hurry. Have your weapons ready to fire.”

Snyder pressed a button and switch-ed his riffle to targeting mode. He clutched his Colt. Dread had ordered manual weapons replaced with auto fire weapons, but Snyder wouldn’t be caught with a useless gun in an EMP attack.

Inside the tunnel, Snyder reached in his backpack and pulled out a converted Taser. “What’s that?” Morgan asked. “Looks like one of those old Tasers.”

Dread whistled. “I loved those before they came out with shock forks.”

Snyder said, “It detects electrical activity  and can overload electric circuits. If we spot any sensor, I can take it out.”

Morgan asked, “Where’d you get it?”

Snyder swallowed. “It’s a prototype someone at the listening post was develop-ing.” They didn’t need to know that some-one was him. If the Army ever realized all he was truly capable of, his life would never be his own.

Colonel Dread cleared his throat. “Snyder, why don’t you lead the way then?”

Yeah, so I can get “accidentally shot” by your friendly fire.

“Sir, I’d like you by my side.”

Dread frowned. “You will obey—”

Morgan shoved Dread. “Get beside him.”

Dread snarled. “Very well.”

“Excuse me, would you like to make a revision to that statement?”

“Very well.” Dread swallowed. “Sir.”

“Better; lead the way.”

The four walked two hundred feet. The detector beeped to indicate electric activity was within fifty feet. Snyder said, “Okay everybody, we’re close to something.”

They slowed to a snail’s pace.

Forty feet ahead, Snyder’s prototype exposed black marks on the wall. “Two censors. I’ll take them out.”

Dread said, “It’s more than that. Look up.”

Snyder looked up and sneered. “Just great! A security camera.”

“We take out that camera, and we have to be prepared for someone to come out.”

“We don’t really have a choice, sir.”

They moved closer. Once within ten feet, Snyder fired the beam.

Dread said, “Now, let’s hurry.”

Snyder shook his head. “Sir, the blue-print showed several pits in the ground that were to be filled later. Most likely booby traps.”

“Then why didn’t you bring the blue-print so we’d know where they were?”

Because I don’t need the blueprint, you nitwit. I’ve got a photographic memory. “I can navigate, but we must be careful. Everyone follow me.”

Snyder made his way through the danger area, avoiding the traps.

The electric activity detector beeped.

Kendell asked, “More sensors?”

“No, it’s moving.” Snyder raised his rifle.

A guard came around the corner.

Snyder pressed his rifle’s targeting button. Before the guard could even fire, the four of them had embedded eight bullets in his chest.

Snyder robbed the guard’s body of his gun and put it in his backpack. “Okay, move this way to the door.” They bustled along the same zig zag the guard had taken to get to them and reached a large steel door.

Snyder put his backpack down and pulled out an explosive. “Everybody, back up. Stand ready to fire.”

He placed the explosive. The door blasted open. Two guards behind it fell like paper dolls. Snyder stared around the chamber. Death hung in the air, wafting from the bodies of the recent mass suicide.

Morgan said, “Where do we need to go?”

“Our mad scientist will either be upstairs at ground level or down in the labyrinth bunker in the sub-basement.”

“Dread, we’ll take downstairs. Snyder and Kendell will take upstairs. Be careful everyone.”

Snyder grunted. “Let’s take the elevator.”

Kendell curled her nose. “No way. The up button’s too clean. Nobody’s been using it. Let’s take the stairs.” 

Snyder opened the door to the stair-well and went in. At a noise behind him, Snyder turned. “Sarge?”

Kendell lay on the ground just out-side the door. Snyder ran back. In the door, electricity coursed through him. He screamed and fell into pitch black fire.

Continued Next Thursday

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