Dan slid forward on his belly, trying as best as he could to utilize the few features of the ground that gave him some cover during his approach to the target.
A quiet voice not his own came to mind...
You crazy old man, this is gonna get us killed!
Dan thought in response to the resurrected mind of his host body.
Not now, Don! This is too damned important to be whinin' about how your precious body and your continued existence might end up gettin' ended. We're both livin' on borrowed time since that accident of yours and whatever the Hell really happened to me. Just don't bother me while I'm takin' care of business!
The target was surrounded by the local jurisdiction's tactical response team. Dan had been in the area and he'd been instructed by his control to provide any assistance that he could to the local and state officials in charge of a hostage crisis. A high-speed chopper ride from Daniel Field in Augusta had delivered him to rural Jefferson County in less than twenty minutes. He'd never heard of Matthews, Georgia until less than an hour earlier. He'd looked down on old cotton gin and warehouse buildings as they'd descended to a landing in front of an abandoned school building just a hundred or so yards from GA 88.
He crawled along until he pulled behind a broad-based clump of broomstraw grass. The grass was turning from green into the golden & copper-like hues during the late October cooldown of the Georgia Fall Line. His next waypoint on his crawl towards his target was a truly humongous fireant mound some fifteen to twenty feet beyond the broomstraw. He paused and once again checked his goal for any awareness by the target that Dan was present and approaching.
He was fairly confident that the new concealment suit was doing an adequate job of hiding his presence. The unmowed pasture abutting up against the hogwire fence of the yard was the best approach anyone had been able to come up with. The other three sides available for approach were either barren pine fields or the grassy expanse of the front yard leading up to the target house. While the two sides of the target covered by the planted pines would have seemed to have been the perfect cover, the first responders to the incident had already discovered that the one & one-half decades old trees offered little concealment underneath their evergreen canopy. Two of them had already been transported to University Hospital in Augusta for treatment of their wounds. The target had proven himself to be an excellent shot by hitting them square on their chest plates. The armor had protected them - mostly. What had probably saved them was the fact that the target had been using jacketed soft-point hunting bullets in his rifle. Dan had learned that it was a much admired BAR. The Police Chief of nearby Wrens knew the target and had stated that the rifle was so finely tuned that it outshot most bolt-action rifles used by local deer hunters.
Dan checked his HUD and found that the local forces were still back in their holding positions. A couple of them had real experience with either the Rangers or the Marine's Force Recon. He'd questioned them and then had them take up close overshoot positions. Still, he was worried that the force supporting him was from too many different jurisdictions. They were from Richmond, Burke, Jefferson, McDuffie, and Columbia Counties, he'd learned. They had trained and worked together, in the past. But, he remained worried about how individuals from so many different agencies would work together. He'd started without the support of promised GBI and FBI teams that were supposed to be on the way to Matthews. The screams of the hostages and the phoned threats of the target had forced Dan into action without the best of support. He just hoped that he was underestimating the training and effectiveness of the local responders.
He cleared his thoughts of those worries and crawled forward. The fireant mound that was his next point of cover was conveniently huge. He hoped that the ants were presently dormant for the evening at this point during the Fall. He really didn't want to deal with the stinging ants and the necrotic wounds that resulted from their stings.
As he edged forward towards the mound his communications system gave him a single pulse.
"Hi there, yourself".
"You gonna save another bunch of underage girls?"
"Not over an open line, Babe!"
There was a giggle in response.
"Sorry, Honey. I can't help knowing your history!"
"Right... How'd you get here?"
"Our older Buddy caught me in transit at Ben Epps in Athens. He had a Georgia National Guard chopper pick me up and drop me off here in lovely little Matthews."
"OK, I guess that was the chopper that came in about fifteen minutes ago."
"Oh, you always were the observant boy!"
Dan grinned to himself. "So, how did your interview go at UGA?"
"It was OK. I'm not sure that I want to be that focused on such a narrow area of study, though. One of the other schools might be better for me, and you, and all of the rest of us."
"Yeah, I can see that."
Dan was now at the ant mound. His night-vision gear was good enough to show him that the fireants were presently quiescent during the cool evening temperature.
He looked to the fence line and noticed something interesting. There were both plastic and wire stakes holding down the hogwire.
"Well, that's interestin'."
Apparently his thought had been verbalized. "What did you say, Honey?"
"Hey Babe, sorry about that. But, this fence I'm lookin' at is staked down with both plastic and wire stakes. I'm wonderin' whether I'm gonna be able to cross it."
"Oh! You think it's booby-trapped!?!"
"Yeah. That's crossed my mind since I got close enough to see it."
"Well, just don't get your lily-white butt blown up by some damned home-made landmines!"
Dan was grinning when Don made a comment.
Yeah, don't get too damned close to that fence with my body!
Dan was completely pleased that he still retained control over the body of Don Nichols. The revived native inhabitant of their body had not always proven to be accepting of Dan's background and activities since he'd taken over Don's body nearly seven years earlier. For the first few months of his existence in Don's body, Dan had had things pretty much to himself. Well, that is, until certain surprising memories started cropping up and so explained some things to a surprised Dan.
A different voice came on via the communications system.
"Agent Nichols. What is it that you're seeing at the fence?"
It was the local Agent-in-charge. He'd been Dan's host as the local Federal team at SRP had observed his particular take on training and weapons drill. Dan recalled that the man had come up in the anti-terrorist portion of the Bureau prior to being assigned to a post where he was the overwatch on a national weapons research and production facility.
"Not much. It's just that the fence line is held down by both plastic and wire stakes as far as I can see. I'm guessing that means something unpleasant regarding whatever may be underneath the fence line. I mean, why the Hell would anyone plant an alternating pattern of tie-downs along a fence unless they represented some portion of a defensive mechanism?"
"Right! OK, you're still the closest of anyone that we have to the target. If you get a chance, then you should take a shot. I've been listening to the tapes of the exchanges between the target and 911 and it ain't pretty! He's gonna kill those girls if something isn't done soon."
Dan dropped deeper into his warrior mentality and began adjusting his position so that he could cover both the front and side doors of the target's house. This took away from the concealment of the fireant mound, but that couldn't be helped.
For the first time during his approach he pulled forward his weapon. It was a highly modified Carbon-15 variant of the M-16. The light weight of the original weapon design had been retained. It was mostly plastics and synthetics. The original barrel had been changed out to accept a new loading of the .300 Whisper. The resultant weapon was a superbly quiet suppressed rifle capable of sub-MOA accuracy. In Dan's hands of Don's body that accuracy approached one-half of a MOA.
There was another clump of broomstraw just short of the fence that would provide what appeared to be the same degree of shooting angle as he now had. He crawled forward while listening to the tactical net as two more choppers were coming in to land in Matthews. He supposed that those arrivals might drive the target into action. The earlier arrival of two separate choppers might have been interpreted as only the transport of officials to the site. But now, here were two transports arriving simultaneously. That would likely be interpreted as the arrival of the heavy cavalry. Only, the target didn't know the deadliest of the cavalry's scouts had already arrived and was already in position.