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?”
“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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