Chapter 6:
He didn’t hesitate for more than a second before diving forward into the expanse. He flew straight down towards his ground target.
It was familiar and odd at the same time. Flying didn’t feel much different. Yet at the same time, he was in space and could see the blackness of it along with the curvature of the earth. He took the time to notice it all.
Then the atmosphere started to thicken, and it began buffeting him. His spacesuit was designed to withstand excess heat. Even still, Adam started feeling it. However, he was able to control the speed of his dive. That, combined with his perpendicular trajectory to the earth, enabled him to minimize friction and its effects on him.
The HUD in his helmet worked exactly as it was designed to do. It noted precisely where he needed to navigate by giving him the ground coordinates numerically and by way of a small, red dot on it that represented his LZ. When that red dot aligned with the crosshairs in the center of his HUD, he was on target; when it didn’t, he was off target.
Central African Republic stood out from the northern part of Africa. Its green, forested landscape contrasted with the brown deserts to the north of it. The greenery grew richer and larger as Adam flew closer and closer to the ground.
He was quite close to the ground before he could visually see the clearing Cisse and his band of terrorists had made for their small safe haven.
He came in fast right until the end when he slowed down to slip through an opening in the canopy of two trees in the midst of the clearing so he could land silently. It had taken him less time to reach here than it had taken the delivery vehicle to reach the thermosphere.
The human intelligence asset on the ground had reported that Cisse’s men rarely went near this small grove of trees. And no one watched it for security purposes since it was inside the perimeter of their camp.
Adam didn’t hear any sirens and he didn’t see any unusual movement. No one had noticed him.
The RMD G-4 had incorporated a secure, satellite radio into the black balaclava he wore underneath his helmet. He crouched in the thick vegetation in the grove of trees and keyed the control that was secured to his chest underneath his spacesuit. The G-4 had configured it in a way that allowed him to press it through his spacesuit while wearing gloves, all without having to worry about fat fingers.
"Helios, this is Probus, Landing successful. Over."
"Roger," Ms. Sherman replied from above. "Charlie Mike. Over."
"Out," Adam responded.
He removed his helmet and disconnected the air hose to the life support system on his back. Then he carefully flew up about twenty feet, scraping against the trunk of a large tree the entire time. He placed the helmet on top of some thick branches and against the trunk. He made sure the air hose and opening to the helmet were covered with a cloth he had in one of his pockets. Having something crawl into them while he conducted the mission on the ground would not be good.
Adam looked east and saw the building where the target was supposed to be.
He lowered himself so his feet were only about a foot off the ground before he moved out from the grove of trees. He remained in an upright position as he flew, about 50 miles per hour, to the target building.
Adam was born and raised near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Its climate was brutal: cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers.
At their worst, you’d only have to be outside for a few seconds in Pennsylvania summers before you were soaked with sweat.
But the CAR weather was even worse. His superhuman biology meant he endured harsh conditions better than any other human. But he wasn’t immune to weather and climate, and he felt the wet heat of the jungle quite clearly underneath his layers of uniform.
He also smelled a stench of sewage throughout the camp. Cisse’s men likely could use a quartermaster.
Adam reached his target and focused on the task at hand. The terrorist group had solidly constructed the building with cinder blocks. It provided little resistance against him.
Two rapid punches put a man-sized hole in the wall. Three people were in the room. Two were now on the floor from the fragmentation that had come flying in at them; one was still standing. Adam immediately identified his primary target.
He fired an energy blast at the standing man. The roar of fire and lightning filled the building, shattering glass and sending a shockwave that shook everything. It was a small blast and so it only cut the man in two before opening a hole in the other side of the building. The upper half of the dead man spun around like a top before it hit the floor with the lower half and his dropped AK-47.
Adam’s second blast was on its way from his other hand while his first hand finished its job. It hit one of the men on the floor in his chest and face, immediately disintegrating them and creating a crater in the floor. The remains of the man slid into the crater and disappeared.
The second man on the floor didn’t have a chance to move before Adam sent a tiny blast–no larger than three inches in diameter–into his chest. That killed him.
Now Adam had to get to work on collecting Toumani Cisse’s biometrics.