Tom fell, eyes focused on the HUD interface inside his helmet, skyrocketing down at a rate of two hundred and seventeen feet per second. He made an adjustment to his fall.

A tingling filled John's stomach, as if he fell with Tom.

Crosshairs flashing red turned yellow. After a few more minor tweaks, the crosshairs flashed green, confirming he descended on the proper course.

Tom stole a look horizontally. Inside his HUD, airliners in the commercial route to the south appeared as red triangles in the night sky, flight numbers marking their identity. He cut through the air traffic corridor, more than halfway to the ground and closing in.

Nine thousand feet, eight thousand, seven thousand...

A whoosh then a snap came as the wingsuit opened. His descent slowed.

Six thousand feet, five thousand-five hundred feet, five thousand...

"Visual on landing target." Tom said, altimeter clocking a mile above the earth.

Using the sophisticated night vision of his helmet, he identified the sheer cliff and made an adjustment to run congruent to the landmark. Computer generated extrapolations appeared as orange glowing overlays mapping treetops, the cliff ghostly green on his display.

One thousand feet. Eight hundred feet, six hundred...

At four hundred feet, Tom yanked on his ripcord. The dark parachute deployed, spreading as it filled in an instant, sending him whiplashing back in his harnesses.

John flinched where he stood, real turbulence of his flight amplifying the experience.

Focused on the trees below, Tom maintained the controlled fall, steering his rectangular sail into a break in the canopy of treetops.

He landed and gathered in his parachute at once. Next, he removed a loaded pack from his back and took off his diving suit. Tom replaced his helmet with a combat headdress made of matte-black carbon fiber and an integrated, slimline HUD down to the nose. After suiting up in jungle striped-camouflage fatigues, he hid his excess gear—covering it in the tall grass nearby—and disappeared into the surrounding foliage.

New functions lit in Tom's HUD.

The readout kept track of pace and distance as he hiked uphill for two miles, moving in a tightening spiral pattern. The sheer cliffs circling the middle of the island appeared impenetrable until he came upon a rift in the crater.

Beyond the crack, a soggy path rose for the duration of the trench ahead, pitching steeper behind him, sloping downhill from where he came. Tom entered the narrow passage, sneaking up the musty moss-filled channel in a northern direction for a quarter mile, careful to scan ahead with his high-tech equipment.

Sophisticated computer processors crunched complex algorithms of heat and light and sound but revealed no threats in the widening trench.

"Satellite position at 0200," Tom spoke in hushed tones, quickening his pace. "Advancing to forward position. Easy as shit."

When Tom came out of the crevice, he discovered a massive compound resting in a flourishing caldera. Angled cliffs crested upwards around him terminating in jagged peaks. He focused his vision on the far side of the volcanic crater, HUD calculating the distance.

2,638 FEET.

Tom affixed a pair of devices, one on either side of the crack in the cliff—punching a button to activate them.

John squinted at the devices, wishing he could zoom-in his VR goggles. Proximity sensors?

"Intel checks out. The compound appears to be multifunctional. One twin-engine TAI Agusta Westland T-129 ATAK helicopter." The aircraft sat perched on a landing pad lit with bright blue lights, the vehicle resembling a wasp. To the west, a three-story building loomed from the trees. "Main living quarters." He panned his HUD eighty feet north to a glowing sphere. "One biodome." Nestled in between the biodome and helicopter pad and raised on stilts, stood a bulging, thousand-gallon tank. "One reservoir." And, in the middle of it all rested a single-story building with a bank of glass windows fifteen feet tall and four times as wide. "And the target."

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