Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

Raising a pair of binoculars to his eyes, Captain Anderson peered out the warehouse window toward City Hall. “Any indication that our snipers have spotted Baskan?”

“I am no longer receiving telemetry from Cooper,” replied the android, “so I assume he is dead. Both Kangjun and Boleslav have elevated blood pressures and heart rates, indicating that they are experiencing stress. However, neither of them have transmitted that they have seen President Baskan. Frankly, Captain, our intelligence information in this matter is pretty substantial. Why don’t you simply detonate the thermonuclear device?  Surely, vaporizing ten square miles of downtown Berlin will essentially guarantee termination of the target.”

Anderson lowered the binoculars and nodded toward the device ten meters behind him. “That thing is only a last resort. As evil as that merciless bastard is, I’m not going to kill millions of people if there is a chance that he can be taken out with minimal collateral damage.”

“I should remind you, Captain,” countered the android, “that President Baskan is responsible for killing more than two billion humans worldwide. Surely, a few million lives are a small price to pay for ridding the world of an evil despot, as you so aptly refer to him.”

Captain Anderson stood up and approached the laptop sitting next to the bomb. He stopped momentarily and turned toward the android. “What if he’s not actually in the city? What if our intel is bad? We’d be killing those people, and ourselves for that matter, for nothing.”

“Sir, again, I believe that the risk…” The android stopped and tilted his head. A few seconds later he said, “I believe that Kangjun has also been killed. Captain, the fact that the president’s security forces are taking out our snipers is additional evidence that he must be in the area.”

Just then, the door was kicked in and six heavily armed soldiers stormed into the room, followed by a powerful looking man in a general’s uniform, “Excellent reasoning, my friend,” he stated with a wide grin. “Unfortunately for you, I am even closer than you could have imagined. Ahhh, the infamous rebel Maarten Anderson, we meet at last. I have looked forward to making your acquaintance. I’d like to thank you for all the trouble that you have caused me over the years. And believe me Mr. Anderson, I can be very grateful. Now, would you please back away from the bomb? I wouldn’t want you to accidently set it off.” Two solders stepped between Anderson and the laptop, and pointed their weapons into his midsection. Anderson backed away and stood next to the android, anger extruding from his eyes. “Ahhh,” continued Baskan, “is this one of the bombs that your forces stole from me? You know, because of you, I was forced to execute half of a battalion for their incompetence. At any rate, I think that I can find a way to put it to good use. Perhaps on the city of your birth. My enemies need to understand that there are consequences for those that oppose me.” He ran his fingers lovingly across the bomb, but paused at the laptop.” The screen read “Time to Detonation” followed by “25, 24, 23…” He turned toward Anderson, “What the hell is this?” he barked.

“I played a hunch this morning, Baskan. An hour ago, I armed the bomb and started the countdown sequence. I was on my way to aborting the detonation when you so rudely interrupted. I guess it’s too late now. Oops.”

The laptop displayed “3, 2, 1…”

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