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Delta‑One was glad to be back on solid ground.

The Aurora aircraft, despite running at only one‑half power and taking a circuitous ocean route, had completed its journey in under two hours and afforded the Delta Force a healthy head start to take up position and prepare themselves for the additional kill the controller had requested.

Now, on a private military runway outside D.C . . . the Delta Force left the Aurora behind and boarded their new transport‑a waiting OH‑58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter.

Yet again, the controller has arranged for the best, Delta‑One thought.

The Kiowa Warrior, originally designed as a light observation helicopter, had been “expanded and improved” to create the military’s newest breed of attack helicopter. The Kiowa boasted infrared thermal imaging capability enabling its designator/laser range finder to provide autonomous designation for laser‑guided precision weapons like Air‑to‑Air Stinger missiles and the AGM‑1148 Hellfire Missile System. A high‑speed digital signal processor provided simultaneous multitarget tracking of up to six targets. Few enemies had ever seen a Kiowa up close and survived to tell the tale.

Delta‑One felt a familiar rush of power as he climbed into the Kiowa pilot’s seat and strapped himself in. He had trained on this craft and flown it in covert ops three times. Of course, never before had he been gunning for a prominent American official. The Kiowa, he had to admit, was the perfect aircraft for the job. Its Rolls‑Royce Allison engine and twin semirigid blades were “silent running,” which essentially meant targets on the ground could not hear the chopper until it was directly over them. And because the aircraft was capable of flying blind without lights and was painted flat black with no reflective tail numbers, it was essentially invisible unless the target had radar.

Silent black helicopters.

The conspiracy theorists were going nuts over these. Some claimed the invasion of silent black helicopters was proof of “New World Order storm troopers” under the authority of the United Nations. Others claimed the choppers were silent alien probes. Still others who saw the Kiowas in tight formation at night were deceived into thinking they were looking at fixed running lights on a much larger craft‑a single flying saucer that was apparently capable of vertical flight.

Wrong again. But the military loved the diversion.

During a recent covert mission, Delta‑One had flown a Kiowa armed with the most secretive new U.S. military technology‑an ingenious holographic weapon nicknamed S M. Despite conjuring associations with sadomasochism, S M stood for “smoke and mirrors"‑holographic images “projected” into the sky over enemy territory. The Kiowa had used S M technology to project holograms of U.S. aircraft over an enemy anti‑aircraft installation. The panicked anti‑aircraft gunners fired maniacally at the circling ghosts. When all of their ammunition was gone, the United States sent in the real thing.

As Delta‑One and his men lifted off the runway, Delta‑One could still hear the words of his controller. You have another mark. It seemed an egregious under‑statement considering their new target’s identity. Delta‑One reminded himself, however, that it was not his place to question. His team had been given an order, and they would carry it out in the exact method instructed‑as shocking as that method was.

I hope to hell the controller is certain this is the right move.

As the Kiowa lifted off the runway, Delta‑One headed southwest. He had seen the FDR Memorial twice, but tonight would be his first time from the air.