The bullet was traveling at a subsonic speed of only 650 feet per second, silent in the cool nighttime air, its rotation stabilizing it with arrow like precision. The silencer attached to the muzzle of the futuristic assault rifle, equipped with infrared technology, absorbed its sound wave. For the split second it took to reach its target, the only sound was a high-pitched hiss.
Steve Ross and Jim Ragan were Immigration Agents, Special Investigations Unit, on assignment in Key West. They had been crouching beside a low brick wall at the estate of Jason Boulez, owner of the world’s largest cargo shipping company.
Trained in clandestine information gathering techniques from their days as Army Rangers, they made their way to a communications interface cabinet mounted in a secure outbuilding near the rear of the exclusive property. Cryptic messages sent to South Florida over a satellite communication system intercepted from Boulez’s overseas operations, triggered a department terrorism alert. Authorization to attempt infiltration of the system came from the highest levels in the department.
The electronic security system on the outbuilding presented no problem for the sophisticated equipment Steve and Jim carried. Within seconds, the lock and alarms were de-activated, and they slipped inside. They found an interface cabinet the size of a two-drawer file mounted to the wall, with several rows of green LCDs showing the operational status of the system. With adept precision, Steve inserted a data recorder connector into the external diagnostic port of the interface. It only took seconds for computer chip embedded in his equipment to disabled the interface’s alarm and downloaded the information stored within. Jim kept watch at the door, his service weapon drawn, and ready.
“It’s as easy as taking candy from a baby.” Steve whispered.
“Hurry, and don’t wake that baby up, or there’ll be hell to pay.” Jim responded. A few seconds later, Steve finished. “I’ve got it, let’s get out of here.” He said as he wrapped the cord to the recording disc up and stuffed it in its pouch.
“You ready?” Jim waited for Steve’s to finish, and cracked the door open a little further, stepping out into the humid night air.
As Steve and Jim exited the outbuilding, they paused for a second to get their bearings. Steve reached up, realizing he had not pulled his heat containing Kevlar mask down over his face. As he reached up to pull it down, the first bullet passing over his right shoulder, shattering into the wall beside him. Small pieces of brick and lead shrapnel from the impact pierced the skin on his forehead and left cheek. He hit the dirt, pulling Jim down with him, knowing if the shooter had wanted to kill him, he would be dead already.
Rodney Best, second in command of the compound’s security, was zeroing in the computerized infrared scope on his new toy, known as an SABR. The Selectable Assault Battle Rifle has not only a 5.56 mm carbine, but a 20 mm auxiliary munitions launcher, and laser sighting with high resolution infrared targeting. Swinging it around towards the perimeter he spied a feral cat at 100 yards, scrambling up a tree, its fuzzy outline confirmed as a hot target by a blinking light in the scope display, and a low-pitched blip-blip-blip sound in the scopes attached ear set. Steadying his aim, he zeroed in on the cat through the viewfinder, but he decided not to pull the trigger. Even though the compound was almost 35 acres, he did not want to risk a ricochet finding its way to a neighboring window over a scroungy fur ball. As he held the rifle on point, a second, quicker blip-blip-blip started, showing another target. It surprised Rodney to see the image of a man’s head pass through the scope’s viewfinder.
“What the hell?” He thought to himself.
Eager to try out his new weapon, Rodney planted two rounds as close as possible to the intruder, hoping to pin him down until help arrived.
“Get down! Get down!” Steve cautioned Jim under his breath. Looking around for the shooter, his mind raced, “How’d they see us?”
His stealth suit, with its cooled black Kevlar outer layer should have protected him any infrared or night vision equipment. Then, as he lay in the dirt, he realized it was his fault. He chastised himself for not pulling the mask down on leaving the outbuilding, a stupid mistake. The little things always got you, one small detail, or one moment of inattention Those few seconds of exposure, and a little luck, were all Rodney needed, allowing the automatic infrared targeting in his SABR to lock on to the heat signature. A second bullet thudded into the dirt behind Jim.
“Damn!” Steve mustered as he sucked in a quick breath. Jim did not bother to answer. Pointing his second and third fingers at his eyes, he then pointed them over to a shallow ravine, which led to a storm drain about thirty inches in diameter. Steve nodded in silent agreement, knowing they had to move, time was their enemy now. He pulled his semi auto out of its holster and gave Jim a gentle shove towards the ravine.