Zero, Part One

“Open up!”

Private First Class A.L. Snyder stood with his gun drawn outside a townhome in San Diego’s suburbs. He waited thirty seconds and kicked the door in. “Freeze! Face down on the ground! Now!”

The young Latino couple seated in the living room rushed to obey. The redheaded kilted marriage counselor, from the looks of things, stood and made direct eye contact. “You don’t want to do this, son. Now, how can I help you?”

Being scared at an Imperial raid would help. How was he supposed to scare this cell straight with the pastor acting like he’d come to borrow a cup of sugar?

“Private A.L. Snyder, Imperial Army Intelligence. I came to warn you I came across unencrypted information from your cell.”

The redhead said, “We don’t need fancy computer encryption, we have a cipher.”

“Yeah, and I have a program that breaks ciphers. It took twenty seconds to get vital information about your operations. I checked, and we already have a decades-long sheet on your cell—more specifically, on your family, Dr. McIntyre.”

The redhead wrinkled up his nose. “Please, young man, it’s Brother Kael. We’re all equals in the sight of God.”

Take him back to Mama Borden’s Baptist church why didn’t he? “Look, I realize from the Christian viewpoint, a rap sheet like what your family’s got is a prestigious resume, but from the Empire’s standpoint, it’s the height of ugly. Had someone else found what I did, you’d be on your way to jail. With what’s already in your file, I don’t know why you haven’t been locked up yet, honestly.”

Kael grinned. “All in the Lord’s good time, I assure you, and not a moment sooner will I receive that honor.”

“Hey, I agree. Nothing wrong with being imprisoned for the Faith. Being im-prisoned because you used cheap and out-dated security is another matter. I can get you proper encryption, and I can provide instructions so every contact point within your cell is fully protected.”

“Why would you do this?”

“Because, I’m a Catholic, and no, we don’t follow the false pope. “

Kael glanced down at Snyder’s wrist. “You’re tagged.”

“We may have a slight disagreement on that, but if I were here to bust you, I’d already done it. I’m offering my help, and I’m offering it for free.”

Kael laughed. “My favorite price.”

“Good, show me to your terminal.”

Continued Next Thursday

Subscribe to Laser & Sword by Email to get the next part and all the rest of our free offerings delivered to you. To find out what happens sooner, visit theLaser and Sword Online store and download Issue 1 for free or purchase the Annual Editioncontaining 11 action packed stories