Today's Reading


As it turned sharply uphill toward Camp David, the convoy of black Suburban sport utility vehicles filled with family members of President Bob Smart's cabinet snaked through the shooter's scope.

A single black Dodge Charger led four hulking black armored vehicles ferrying excited men, women, and children to the well-known presidential retreat in western Maryland on a warm May morning. Windows were rolled down. Children's arms hung outside catching the wind and sun. Parents smiled in anticipation of the fun weekend.

As the automobiles made the U-turn, shiny metallic paint winked through the misty air as the sun burned away the dew. The convoy turned off the main road into the Catoctin Mountain Park, leaving behind the grassy fields before ascending into the thick forests. Little publicized, but accessible to the leader of the deadly Threat Zero Team, as the ambush squad called themselves, the itinerary for the annual family day was right on schedule.

As the first vehicle slowed at the hairpin turn, Zero One—the leader—pressed a garage door opener sending unit, which transmitted a signal to a receiving unit antenna sticking up from a faux curbstone. The blown Styrofoam curbstone contained twelve improvised explosive devices called explosively formed penetrators, or six-inch copper plates, that became molten fists when fired from the PVC pipes.

The EFPs fired in a flurry of black smoke and flame. The black rectangular hood of the first Suburban popped off, flew into the air, and bounced off its own windshield. The precisely placed EFPs punched through each of the armored SUVs like rocks through a flimsy porch screen. All four SUVs were hit, two were on fire. Doors opened. Women and children stumbled out. Then two men rolled out of the fourth vehicle, both on fire.

Zero One leveled his scope on the first of the two men, fired. Switched to the second man, fired. Saw the woman in her jeans and five-hundred-dollar shirt, shot her through the head. Two children on the ground, injured. He took them, as well. The other members of his team fired on their targets. Each was assigned a vehicle to avoid squirters that might escape. Zero One eyed the trail vehicle, which he had assigned himself. The fire burned rapidly, flames licking the sky. Anyone inside was incinerated by now.

He moved his scope to monitor vehicle three, which he had assigned to the newest member of the team. Two women were lying on the ground, blood seeping from their heads. Good shots. While that Suburban was not burning, smoke was boiling under the hood. Someone stumbled from the vehicle, gasping. Zero Three nailed the adolescent through the head, spinning the child around. He fell into the open door and slid down, arms and legs splayed open, as if he were making snow angels.

After no further activity on vehicle three, Zero One scanned up to the lead vehicles. Two men from the lead chase car were aiming rifles, scanning for the threat, for them. Zero One fired once, killing the man who was using the open Dodge Charger door as cover. Another team member killed the other man, eliminating the threat. Police sirens screamed in the distance. Time to pack up and move.

"Rally," he said into his microphone. The team executed their well-rehearsed clean-and-collect plan. They then collapsed to an apartment where they had one final task before they would escape and evade in much the same manner that they had entered the ambush location.

The entire attack had taken three minutes.

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