Snyder stood in Dread’s office. Dread, sat behind his desk smiling wide. “Snyder, take a look, I brought some stills.”
He placed a holocube on the desk and pressed a button to go through the images inside the basketball-sized device.
“This is me with the Steward . . . This is me with the Emperor and the Steward at dinner . . . This is me with the Steward, before I got to use the public harem on the Emperor’s dime . . . These are pictures of Congress waiting for my speech, there’s the Commanders of the Armed Forces, the Supreme Court, the Diplomatic Core . . .
“And this is a picture of me walking down statuary hall, flanked by leaders of Congress . . . And this is me entering the Capitol to glorious applause. I actually saved the audio.” Dread pressed a button and applause streamed out.
Dread turned to him, beaming still wider. “So, that’s how my time went. How’d you make out, Wilderness boy?”
“Permission to speak freely.”
“Oh, of course.”
“You stole my work and took credit for it. You’re a dishonorable man and you’ll be exposed. Corporal Redondo and Captain Gooding both know the truth.”
Dread smirked. “I believe that you mean Staff Sergeant Redondo and Major Gooding? Gooding has been promoted and taken over his own listening post in Washington State. As for Redondo, he has filled a vacancy in quality assurance.”
“You promoted him two pay grades.”
“I have to admit he had more honor than Gooding. He wouldn’t sell you out for one pay grade, but two-everyone has their price. The witnesses will say the same thing. You weren’t even here when I discovered the journal.”
“Computer logs will say otherwise.”
“I kindly had your computer upgraded. Unfortunately, in the process, all your data was irretrievably deleted. So, if you want to tell crazy stories, go right ahead. No one will believe a punk from JD discovered anything. You are good for nothing but the gallows, and I will see to it you end up there as soon as possible.”
Dread opened his drawer, pulled out three knives, and slapped them down on his desk before Snyder. “Do you want to do something, punk?”
Snyder stared at the knives, his blood pumping pure fury through his veins. He imagined slamming one of the knives into Dread’s heart and twisting it.
He forced his breathing to slow. No. That was what the creep wanted. “Yes, sir. I’d like to return to duty.”
“By all means, Private.”
Snyder walked back to Operations. What can I do to Dread?
Ideas rolled through his head, but none untraceable enough. Staying alive would have to irk Dread enough. For now.
He walked to the break area. Sergeant Redondo walked out of quality assurance.
Snyder saluted. “Sergeant! Sir!“
Redondo returned salute. “You’re ticked off, I know. I’m not proud of it, but I’ve learned how to work the system. We do the grunt work, COs get the credit, and we take whatever crumbs that are given us. Now, you know it, too.”
“Sir, I’m forever grateful, sir.”
Redondo will have a hard time writing me up for deadpanned sarcasm.
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