The very small Short Take Off, Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft settled gently to the ground next to the house the target was reportedly occupying. It was dark and the aircraft’s stealth (including acoustic suppression) had been sufficient to ensure an undetected landing. Double checking before leaving the aircraft, the operator patted the bag containing the package he was to deliver. This was a non-lethal delivery intended only to send a message to the target. The mission was to be a quick in-and-out operation with the package to be left for the target to find in the morning.
Lowering himself to the ground, he paused a moment to listen and assure himself that he was still undetected. Satisfied, he spotted the small outcropping on the roof that his pre-mission intel had identified and then unhooked a specialized grappling hook from his MOLLE vest. The vest was a recent addition to his standard outfit and he wondered how he had gotten along without it before. He gently tossed the hook up to the roof outcropping and felt it snag securely. Hand over hand, he quickly scaled the side of the house and pulled himself onto the roof. It would have been much easier to land the aircraft directly on the roof, like in TV shows, but the reality was that unless a building was specifically constructed to take the weight, even a very light aircraft like his was just too much for a roof to hold.
With cat-like balance born of endless training repetitions, he made his way to the chimney. It might seem clichéd but one of the easiest and least secured entry points to a building or house was the chimney, assuming it was large enough to accommodate a person. The top of the chimney extended about four feet above the roof and had a simple locked grate over the opening. His eyebrow arched up momentarily as he considered this. The target was clearly no ordinary person as no ordinary person would have a locked grate over a chimney. The operator smirked slightly. No simple lock was going to stop him. He had been trained to open any conceivable lock.
Sure enough, a moment’s effort was all it took to open the lock and quietly swing open the grate. Reaching up with both hands to the edge of the chimney, he gave a slight jump, pulling himself up and twisting so that he landed, sitting, on the edge. Swinging his legs over the edge, he dropped silently down the chimney only to abruptly stop short barely four feet down. Pulling out his palm sized tactical flashlight, he looked down to see that he was standing on yet another grate, this one thick and embedded into the brick masonry.
“Damn!”, he thought to himself, “This guy is taking security beyond reasonable and into paranoid.”
Still, he wasn’t worried. There were plenty of other ways into any structure and he had been trained to find and use all of them. Hoisting himself up and out of the chimney opening, he ghosted back across the roof and slid down the grappling line to the ground.
Moving to a window sheltered in deep darkness, he began to examine the window. He was taking no chances this time. Removing a hand held multi-spectral sensor from a pouch on his vest, he carefully scanned the window. His caution proved wise as he quickly detected criss-crossing laser beams. Presumably, they were part of a motion detection system and connected to an alarm. He would have to find another way in. This was turning out to be more of a challenge than the pre-mission brief had led him to expect. Time was also becoming a factor. His mission schedule had some delay variance built in but there was a limit. He had to find an entry point quickly.
Backing slowly away from the window, he reached across his chest and tapped a padded button on his shoulder. The button activated his suit’s pizo-electric, adaptive camouflage capability. The suit’s small optical sensor noted the ambient light and surrounding color wavelengths and the nano-threads of the suit’s fabric received a minute electrical charge from the sensor’s battery which had the effect of changing the color of the threads. He was now completely blended in with the surroundings and virtually invisible. Given the target’s demonstrated security fixation, the operator was taking no chance of being visually spotted by a hidden security camera.
Reaching into yet another pouch (love that MOLLE vest, he thought) he removed a pair of glasses and put them on. He quickly blinked several times, activating the smart glasses head up display (HUD) and scrolled his way to the building schematics. A quick moment of study and found what he was looking for. The house was built on a crawl space with a service access door on the side of the building.
He began cautiously walking around the house to the side. He was in full tactical mode now, stepping slowly and silently, feeling with his unweighted toe before placing his full weight on his extended foot and then repeating the process with each step. It was an ungainly looking way to walk, toe-then-heel rather than the normal heel-then-toe, but it was silent and safe and he had long since mastered the movement to point that it was second nature.
A step away from the crawl space door, he paused to shine his shielded tactial flashlight at the door. Out of the corner of his eye he caught the faintest glimmer of light. Glancing down in the direction of the light, he was barely able to see a monofilament tripwire stretched across the door just a step in front of it. One more slight movement and would have tripped it.
Backing off a step, he incredulously wondered, “Who is this guy? No reasonable person has this kind of security at a house!”
The operator acknowledged to himself that he probably should have paid more attention to the mission briefing but his mind had wandered a bit. That’s what happens when operations become too routine for too long.
Stepping carefully over the tripwire, he examined the door. Finding no additional alarms he ever so slowly opened the simple lock and unlatched the door. Peering inside, he could see the usual assortment of heating ducts, pipes, and wires that every crawl space contains. Easing himself into the crawl space, he slowly and silently moved to the nearest air duct and traced it up to the house’s main floor, directly above his head. He quickly unscrewed the duct from the air diffuser and set the diffuser gently off to one side. He now had a 4 inch by 10 inch opening into the main floor of the house. Obviously, he couldn’t fit through the opening but he didn’t need to.
Clipped to the back of his vest was a miniature remote controlled wheeled drone, much like a child’s remote control car, only this one had a tiny camera and a flatbed instead of a car body. Reaching into his bag, he pulled out the package. Fortunately, it was only the size of a man’s fist. Reaching up through the exposed diffuser opening, he placed the drone on the floor and then carefully placed the package on the flatbed of the drone.
Opening yet another pouch on his vest, he removed the remote control unit for the drone, set the miniature display for low level light enhancement, and began driving the drone forward. After a brief recon of the room above him, he spotted a likely corner and directed the drone to the location. A touch of a switch and the drone’s tiny flatbed tipped sideways allowing the package to gently slide off and down to the floor.
Satisfied with the package placement, he quickly retrieved the drone and retraced his steps out of the crawl space and back towards his aircraft. Jumping lightly back aboard, he let out a pent up breath and realized he had been sweating from exertion and tension. It felt good to stretch his shoulders and relax for a moment. Mission accomplished, curiosity immediately overcame him and he scrolled through his smart glasses to the mission briefing background to see who the target was and way he was so paranoid about security. Seeing the name of the target, he let out a muffled curse.
“Should have known”, he thought, “I hate delivering packages to retired SEALS. Paranoid bastards, all of them!”
With that, he deactivated his cammo suit and it immediately returned to its normal brilliant red. Glancing out of the sleigh to clear left, right, and above, he rose into the air. No one was there to hear it but as he rose out of sight he quietly muttered, “Ho, ho, ho, wise guy. I beat you. Enjoy your present of a new tactical wristwatch. Merry f*ing Christmas!”
Note: There’s no messages in this story – just a bit of Christmas entertainment. I love SEALs.