Chapter 5:
Benton, Ms. Venter, and Mr. Serna joined Adam as everyone exited the briefing
room. The four of them began walking towards the G-4 office. Two younger men,
armed with Sig Sauer pistols in holsters on their hips, led them.
younger men were security personnel for the RMD headquarters. They looked like
clones, or at least twins, from behind. The pistols they carried were standard
issue. No one pretended they’d have any effect against Adam.
Benton and Mr. Serna were white. Ms. Venter was born to Indian immigrants. All
three were native Americans.
Serna served as the director of the RMD. Ms. Benton was the deputy director.
Ms. Venter was the chief of staff.
Serna was a big man at six feet, two inches. But he still looked rather small
next to Adam. Ms. Benton was also tall, a blond woman topping out at six feet.
High heels made her even taller. Meanwhile, Ms. Venter was average height at
five-six or so.
with the approximately 30 people who had filed out of the briefing room at
once, the RMD hallway where the six now walked was empty. And with the two
security men leading them, the others were nearly able to walk four abreast . .
. sort of. Adam took up a lot of space, and at times that squeezed Ms. Venter
to being slightly behind them. But she’d regularly squirm even with them again.
RMD G-4 office was the logistics section of the unit. One of its
responsibilities included providing Adam with any equipment, uniforms, and
weapons he might need. So far, it had not come up with a single weapon he might
it had designed the tactical uniform he now wore. And it would supply him with
additional specialized uniform items and equipment he’d need for Operation
group reached the G-4 office. One of the security personnel badged open the
G-4 office consisted of an entrance room. Adam saw there were several doors
leading off it. They seemed to be offices for administration. All of them were
closed except for one. That one had a name plate on it that read, "Karen
Leahy," on the top line and, "Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4 Logistics," on the
bottom line.
and one of her subordinates were standing in the entrance room when they
arrived. They led the new arrivals down a hallway connected to the entrance
room. At the end of the hall, Ms. Leahy open a door that led to the large
working area of the G-4 staff.
a bevy of G-4 personnel were around Adam and issuing him new gear.
specialized flight suit will provide you protection from the near-vacuum of
space," Ms. Leahy said as Adam took a folded, black uniform from one of the G-4
personnel. The material was relatively thin. Still, even folded, it took up a
lot of space. "The suit has an organic air compartment integrated into it," Ms.
Leahy said. "It contains other life-support features as well.
set it down on a nearby table.
this," she said. She handed Adam an electronic tablet and stylus.
is it?" Adam asked.
the form you need to sign acknowledging that you received the issued spacesuit.
Take care of it. It’s government property and you need to return it."
suit or the form?" Adam asked.
Leahy tittered.
she and the G-4 staff issued Adam a specialized helmet and air hose. The air
hose hooked up to the suit and helmet to deliver the oxygen and other air to
him. They also issued him the biometrics toolkit he’d need to collect the
biometric data from Cisse.
that, they issued him other equipment along with protective knee pads and elbow
pads. They required Adam to sign for all of the above items.
am I receiving knee pads and elbow pads? How are they going to help me?" Adam
asked. He signed multiple forms on the tablet. Then he picked up one of the
foam and hard plastic kneepads and looked at it more closely. There wasn’t
anything about it that he could see that would offer him any protection that
his superhuman durability didn’t already provide him.
the risk assessment portion of the briefing?" Ms. Venter asked him.
of what we have to do once we identify risks is to develop mitigating actions
in response to them," she said. "And the knee pads and elbow pads were part of
those mitigating actions," she said.
guess I didn’t pay attention very closely to that part," Adam said. "But what
risk did you identify to my knees and elbows that this equipment will in any
way mitigate?"
Leahy leaned forward. "Just be glad you weren’t issued a high-visibility
reflective belt. We almost actually did that–"
Venter interrupted her. "That was only going to be for travel to the facility–"
now Ms. Benton interrupted her. "Let’s not get sidetracked." She looked Adam in
the eyes as best she could. "Mr. White, RMD leadership made the decision for
you to receive and wear this personal protective equipment. So you are required
to do so."
looked back at her.
mean SOP is that leadership defines potential hazards and threats, and
d-develops methods and means to reduce those risks," Ms. Benton said, pulling
the cuff of her left sleeve with her right hand like a little kid would do.
"And the knee and elbow pads are some of the–"
wear them," Adam said. He tossed the kneepad he had picked up towards the other
one and two elbow pads he had placed on top of the folded uniform. Those items
sat next to the helmet and air hose. "So how do I return to the delivery
vehicle if the helmet gets damaged?" he asked. "Or the air hose or some other
part of the life-support system?"
care of them," Ms. Benton, Ms. Venter, and Ms. Leahy said in unison.
women looked at one another. Mr. Serna and Adam looked at them.
Leahy cleared her throat and then pointed at Adam’s helmet. "You’ll receive
more guidance on it when you start your training. But like the briefing
mentioned, the helmet contains the HUD–the heads-up display," she said.
"Remember, that has your GPS and other guidance systems in it. They’ll display
important data on your visor. And those data will help you locate the HVT.
They’ll also help you to find your way back to the delivery vehicle in space."
picked it up and looked at the inside of the helmet. The visor didn’t appear
special. But he noticed audio earpieces incorporated into the helmet. There was
other unique circuitry and designs in it as well.
that’s why Ms. Chapman recommended that you remove it and stow it somewhere
safe when you land on target in the CAR. You don’t want to get it damaged
during your assault."
I remember that part of the briefing," Adam said.
RMD OPORD for Operation Caelus called for it to be executed in daylight. There
were two primary reasons for this: the human intelligence asset on the ground
reported that Cisse’s pattern of life had him at his safe haven most often in
daylight. Cisse conducted reconnaissance, operations, and other activity at
other reason was that the U.S. wanted to send a show-of-force message to the
world. It wanted the world to know it had a new capability.
set the helmet back down on the table.
questions?" Ms. Leahy asked.
nodded her understanding. And then Adam looked at Mr. Serna. "So why did you give
me the call sign of Probus?"
thinking," Mr. Serna said.
then it was time to start training.

packed up all his new gear along with what additional gear he had in his
quarters. RMD personnel required for the mission were now moving to the site
where they would train and launch. They would not be returning to RMD
headquarters until after the operation ended.
changed into casual, civilian clothing as part of their cover for their
movement. They also used nongovernmental civilian vehicles and traveled in
multiple, staggered convoys. These procedures contributed to their effort to
hide their identities and numbers.
traveled in one of the middle convoys. It took between two to three hours to
reach the training and eventual launch site.
started his training by going through a simulator on the first day. After that,
he trained and rehearsed with the crew of the delivery vehicle. First they flew
inside the atmosphere and Adam jumped from there. They then progressed to
rehearsing in the thermosphere over U.S. geography.
days went by quickly. And when a week finally passed, Director Serna gave the
final approval to execute Operation Caelus.
delivery vehicle looked like a cross between the retired space shuttle and a
modern unmanned aerial vehicle. It was about 40 feet long and held four people–one
of which would be Adam.
and the three others on the operations team were geared up and ready to go. The
delivery vehicle was fueled, prepped, checked and inspected, and in position
for launch.
Mitchell spoke with each member of the operations team, asking them some basic
questions to verify they were good to go.
quickly went through the questions when she reached Adam. Then she leaned
closer to him. "What are you going to do if something happens to your life
support system? I mean, if it gets damaged while you’re fighting, where will
you go?"
leaned towards her. "I thought about that," he said. "I’ll likely fly as high
as I can, and then violate some nations’ airspace until I can land somewhere
where the U.S. can pick me up. I’ll deal with the international incidents after

and the crew boarded the delivery vehicle. The crew consisted of Mr. Morse, the
commander (who was also the lead pilot), Ms. Sherman, the pilot (who was
actually the co-pilot), and Mr. Flanagan, the flight engineer.
their week of training, Adam mentioned something about how it must have taken
them a lot of preparation and training for the flight before he had even agreed
to do the operation. He had asked them what they would have done if he hadn’t
agreed to it. They all replied with some sort of variation of how they just
would’ve been glad for the experience and skills they had acquired during the
a half-hour after they boarded, they launched. Everything went normally. Within
minutes they reached the thermosphere. And then Mr. Morse began piloting the
vehicle into an orbit towards Africa. Once they reached their specified
coordinates, he and the crew locked the vehicle into a near geostationary orbit
above the Central African Republic.
Sherman was in charge of communications. The human asset the RMD had on the
ground had to contact the RMD tactical operations center at the U.S. launch
point. If the HVT–if Toumani Cisse–was at his safe haven, the RMD TOC would
relay that intelligence to Ms. Sherman.
minutes passed. Then seven. Finally, after ten minutes, the RMD TOC advised Ms.
Sherman that the human asset had confirmed that Cisse was on site. She gave
Adam the signal to go.
moved out of his seat to the airlock. He put on his helmet and secured his air
hose to it. Then he donned an assault pack on his back. It contained the
biometrics toolkit along with other gear he likely would not use. Finally, he
readjusted his elbow pads and knee pads. Then he entered the airlock and shut
the door behind him.
delivery vehicle confirmed the inner door was secure.
then Adam opened the outer door. Nothing was now between him and the entire