Countdown, Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Snyder leaned back in his cube, stretching. He’d finally finished decoding Level 48.

A chill tingled down his spine. Level 48 had Oerz destroy a school of young Unhams before they could grow up to threaten Oerz and his cute woodland forest creature friends. A giant Unham chased him into Level 49. It’d taken him five nanoseconds to figure out Unhams were humans. Only three levels left to decode, and he’d know if this were more than sick and effective propaganda.

“Private Snyder!”

Snyder turned. A smile broadened Dread’s lips. It was bad news when Dread was smiling.

Dread sighed. “It’s a pity you didn’t do this in your first enlistment, as you’d face the gallows. But at least I get to court martial you out of intelligence.”

Uh oh. What tracks had Snyder for-got to cover? “Sir, what are you talking about?”

“You gained unauthorized access to confidential segments of citizens’ profiles.”

Snyder swallowed. “Sir, that infor-mation was sent at the request of Colonel Morgan.”

“Who is not an Army Intelligence officer and cannot grant you this permission. You could well be dishonorably discharged for this stunt, Snyder.” Dread’s smile broad-ened. “And I will ensure that you are.”

 “Sir, I know we have our differences, but I’m working on something big.”

“A Judge Advocate General is coming tomorrow to prepare you for your court mar-tial. Meanwhile, you’ll be escorted to the stockade.”

“Permission to speak freely, sir?”

“Go ahead.”

“You are an idiot.”

Dread laughed. “Take him away.”

Continued Next Thursday

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