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“The #1 factor in reducing the consequences of a security breach is having an effective response team.” - [Unnamed Corporate] Security

(This is a continuation of “GloBall War Of Terror”, a 'Rabbit Hole' post from 2005. http://drewkitty.livejournal.com/87696.html )

I was curled up for warmth in the back of my van when the radio crackled.

“Post 7, Code 21, Code 21, Post 7” a voice calmly announced.

I immediately, without turning on the lantern, opened the sleeping bag and slid into my boots, tightened my BDU belt, and strapped on my gun belt. I'd been meaning for a while to swap out for Load Bearing Equipment or LBE, but between the difficulty of getting hands on equipment, the lack of time, and the severe hazards of leaving the wire, I'd not yet gotten around to it.

The radio slid neatly into its holster, I wrapped the earpiece up my body to the obvious place, and clicked the button.

“Whiskey 2,” I said briefly and released it.

I didn't need to check anything else on the belt – I had checked it all last night, and three times a day, ever since Firecracker Day. Nonetheless my hand slipped to the butt of my handgun, just to make sure the holster strap was fastened.

I eased out of my van through the battered right rear door, which lacked a window and a latch. I had a locking rack for my weapons, and no one would be dumb enough to steal 1) from a contractor, 2) from Security and especially 3) from me.

Ducking low, I eased out from under my bed – a plywood rack – my rifle and jump pack. The latter was bright orange and adapted from what had been a piece of emergency medical equipment. I rather liked not being shot from behind, at least by accident, and every little bit helps.

Post 7 was an Observation Post just west of the main electrical substation. It overlooked Post 6 on the opposite hilltop and Post 8 halfway up the slope behind Facilities. (Better if Post 8 had been further up – but between the hike, the skyline exposure and the two men we'd lost to snipers, we'd reversed it on the slope and depended on cameras for the military crest, unless we were at a higher alert status.)

I formed up with two other responders at the main gate to the Contractors Utility Yard – even after all that had happened, the corporate types still didn't want to call it 'residential' or 'housing. They also carried rifles, but looked to me as if I was in charge.

Well, I was.

“Let's walk up and see what's going on. Brooke, take the point.”

The officer? soldier? paramilitary? I named was probably in the best physical shape of the three of us. My knees still ground after one too many dives to the deck. Moore was well enough for a man in his mid fifties, but Brooke was in great shape if you didn't count the sway back that meant she couldn't carry much, and also exempted her from deployment to China.

She hefted her rifle and headed out. I took the middle. Moore took the back. Automatically we covered our sectors, overlapping. I had to cover both right and forward, which is annoying because I'm not a southpaw.

A shot rang out and the three of us made love to the dirty, broken asphalt which had been a parking lot when it was last paved a decade ago, and washed shortly before the Firecracker.

I brought up my rifle. Yup, from the hills. Yup, from the direction of Post 8. I keyed my radio.

“Whiskey 2, Contact North,” I muttered into the mike.

“Delta 5, scanning. One subject, dismount, at the top of the ridgeline, prone, with a rifle. Wait... second subject, also prone. Orders?”

“Give me a limited tactical alert, mode 2, and courtesy notifications. Let's get Victor 5 out here and see if we can draw some fire.”

Two figures about three hundred yards away ran from a covered slit trench to an armored truck parked nearby. Its diesel engine growled noisily and it trumbled up the road towards the north perimeter.

Meanwhile, a few bored people sleeping on the roof of H5 Executive would be waking up, shrugging on heavy body armor, and getting out the tools of their trade.

Most of the resident's camp just behind us continued sleeping. A shot or two, no big deal, it happened. Only the alarm or a volley of fire would cause them to wake from the righteous sleep of people working sixteen hours a day to Make Freedom Happen.

Must be listening to the propagandists too much again.

“Leapfrog,” I said in a normal voice to Brooke and Moore. “I'll go first.”

With that, I got up and ran past Brooke, scanning for that little bit of cover – a dead lamp pole, a dead bush, a bit of curb – that might make the difference between bruises and a body bag. Moore and Brooke covered my movement. I took a knee, scanning the hillside above me and knowing damn well that my shooting skills were not up to those of an Unemployed sniper. This allowed Moore to lumber past me in turn, himself looking for a hiding place.

Another shot rang out and Moore sucked pavement. I was on overwatch, so I took a bead and fired three spaced rounds at the hillside.

The armored truck by this time had reached the perimeter road and done a three-point turn so that it could drive away in any useful direction.

“Delta 5, intruders are verified hostile, repeat they just fired a shot.”

I saw a slight glint of movement from H5. Camera lens? Optics? I noted to myself we'd have to do something about that.

CRACK! A single shot rang out from H5 and a body tumbled down the hillside. A figure, barely visible at the top of the hill, started to get up.

CRACK! CRACK! CRACK! It fell back down again.

“Two subjects, down and dead,” said Delta 5 with satisfaction.

I got up and moved over to Moore. He was already getting up.

“Hit?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Naawh, just old.”

The three of us walked leisurely to the body. I gestured for my subordinates to take overwatch while I exercised one of the privileges of leadership by laying down my rifle, drawing my handgun and approaching the downed intruder.

“Put Your Hands On Your Head,” I commanded loudly, then moved to the side. I hadn't survived three years of this shit by being stupid.

He didn't move. I fired a single pistol round – easily to miss – and he did not even flinch.

So I holstered my pistol and approached armed only with a zip-tie. I roughly zipped his wrists together, then his ankles, then put on a precious pair of nitrile gloves and started searching him.

It's amazing how the skills of searching a suspect and conducting a rapid trauma exam overlap.

His entire front was a sodden mass of red. He had no pulse and was quite thoroughly dead.

I took out trauma shears and cut off his clothes, hoping to preserve the contents of his pockets. Soon I had a sodden pile of rags – two pairs of jeans, two shirts, a sweatshirt, a jacket, lots of small objects I passed over for now, two objects I carefully set to the side. No armor, no tags.

Meanwhile Brooke had retrieved his rifle – a cheap bolt action piece of crap with an iron ring for a sight, not even a scope.

“Whiskey 2, one body recovered, two objects for disposal. Mark.”

“Copy mark.”

We would come back and get rid of his grenades in the morning. No need to wake up the whole place with explosions.

Also, some fool might try to sneak down and retrieve the items. As Delta (“Dispatch”) would be watching on cameras, that would be very foolish and probably fatal, unless the H5 sniper team missed and they surrendered fast enough. Hadn't happened yet.

“Whiskey 2, Victor 5, pick us up. We still need to check Post 7.”

I had no special doubt what we would find there. A dead guy. One of mine. Asleep or drunk or merely distracted, but shortly thereafter dead, of one damned thing or another involving inattention to duty on a dangerous perimeter.

Or he would merely wish he were dead. Because if he weren't, I would literally, absolutely beat the living shit out of him.

“Let's roll.”

Just another early morning. Remember, kids, Software Wins Wars. But some dumb schmuck has to keep the world safer for the programmers.

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