30 Days to Zero Hour
Captain Bobbie Garcia had killed thirty-four people in his years as a Delta Force operative. Tonight would make thirty-five.
He peered through the night-vision goggles and adjusted the focus. The senatorís home came into clear view, the ghostly green image of the walled estate visible beyond the imposing gate. Garcia lay prone on a wooded, low-rise hill, across the desolate road in front of the house. The place was situated on six acres, in a secluded area, and he knew its electronic surveillance was first-rate. But heíd been in black ops a long time, and this job wasnít much different from other wet work heíd done. The target was just higher profile. Heíd considered bringing his team on the mission, but decided the less people involved the better.
Taking off his backpack, he pulled out the portable EMP device and adjusted the settings. Clamping his eyes shut, he activated it. Through his closed eyelids he saw the bright flash and felt a tingle of electrical shock.
Quickly stuffing the device back in the pack, he glanced at the house. The flood lights that had lit up the grounds were dark now and the hum of the air conditioning units was silent. The electromagnetic pulse had worked.
Garcia pulled his silenced Glock, took off the safety and sprinted down the hill. A minute later he was facing the tall, wrought iron gate. He was ruggedly built so the gate presented little challenge. Grabbing the metal bars, he climbed up, vaulted over the top and dropped to the other side with a thud. Scanning the grounds through the goggles, he saw nothing moving.
Avoiding the long driveway that curved up to the front of the estate, he instead zigzagged around the lush landscaping, reaching the back entrance moments later. Hugging the ornate brick wall, he caught his breath and wiped perspiration from his forehead. It was mid-summer, and it was hot outside, even at this time of night.
He checked his watch - it read 3:12 a.m. everyone should be asleep.
By the tall French doors was a side window and he approached it, peering inside the darkened house. The shadowy green image showed a large sitting room, the walls lined with filled bookcases.
Knowing the alarm system was dead, he pulled a glass cutting tool from his all-black uniform and proceeded to cut and pull out part of the pane. That done he shoved his hand through the hole and unlocked the window. Sliding it open, Garcia crawled in and crouched by a wingback chair. He listened closely, but only heard the faint ticking of a clock somewhere nearby.
Making his way out of the room, he found the wide staircase that led to the second story. According to mission specs, the senatorís bedroom was on that floor, off to the right. The manís children were away traveling, leaving only the senator and his wife at home. All Garcia had to do was gas the couple, putting them out, then kill him and take jewelry and cash on the way out. A robbery gone bad. Simple and straightforward, his handler had said.
He crept up the staircase, his heart thudding in his chest. He knew kills were never simple.
Reaching the landing, he turned right, training his weapon in front of him.
A creaking noise behind him broke the silence and he whirled around to find a large man wearing plaid pajamas pointing a gun at him.
Dropping to the floor, Garcia fired two quick shots, the muted sounds filling the corridor. The man buckled, his gun clattering on the marble floor. Losing no time, Garcia dashed to the prone gunman, whose bleeding body was still. Checked for a pulse, confirmed the man was dead. But clearly he wasnít the senator; much bigger and bulkier. A bodyguard? The specs hadnít mentioned that. Was there a leak? Had the senator been warned?
His heart racing, Garcia sprinted down the corridor, knowing he had only seconds before the family woke up.
A door opened to his left and a middle-aged, balding man wearing a robe came out, yawning and rubbing his eyes. Senator Carpenter.
Damn it all to hell, he thought. It was too late; it was all turning to shit.
Garcia fired, putting three rounds in the manís torso. The senatorís eyes went wide; he grunted and clutched his chest. Then he collapsed his body convulsing.
Garcia heard a womanís scream as he entered the darkened bedroom. A naked, fat woman sat on the edge of the king-size bed staring at him. She yelled again, and Garcia put a slug in her forehead. A neat hole appeared there and she slumped to the floor.
Glancing around, he saw no one else. Taking no chances, he sprinted out of the room, checking each of the other bedrooms. They were empty and his mind raced, trying to figure a way out of the mess. Heíd killed three people, one of them an armed bodyguard - the írobbery gone badí cover was now a stretch.
Finally deciding, he took off his backpack and rummaged through it. Finding the incendiary grenade, he pulled the pin and rolled it down the corridor. In minutes the estate would be in flames.
He ran down the staircase, his weapon trained in front of him. Moments later, he was on the grounds, racing away from the house.
Operation BlackSnow had begun.