Tom Clancy – Op Center 6 State Of Siege

Each Morning At Five-Thirty, An Armored Truck Operated By The Banque De Commerce Begins Its Rounds Of These Post Offices. It Carries An Armed Driver And One Armed Guard Up Front And Another Armed Guard In Back, Along With Postage Stamps, Money Orders, And Postal Cards To Deliver To The Five Post Offices. When It Completes Its Rounds, The Armored Truck Is Carrying Canvas Sacks Loaded With The Counted, Banded Cash Collected By Each Post Office The Day Before. Typically, The Cash Is International Currency Equivalent To Three-Quarters Of A Million To One Million U.S. Dollars. The Truck Follows The Same Route Every Day, Making Its Way Northwest And Then Turning Up The Heavily Traveled Boulevard De La Bastille.

Once The Armored Car Is Past The Place De La Bastille, It Deposits Its Cargo At. A Bank Building On The Boulevard Richard Lenoir. The Policy Of The Banque De Commerce, Like Many Armored Car Companies, Is To Adhere To The Same Path Every Day.

That Way, The Drivers Will Know The Route And Its Character And Recognize Any Changes. If There’s An Electrical Team Working On A Streetlight Or A Road Crew Working On A Pothole, The Driver Is Informed Ahead Of Time. A Two-Way Radio Is Always Turned On In The Cab And Is Monitored By A Dispatcher At The Banque De Commerce Office Across The River On The Rue Cuvier Near The Jardin Des Plantes.

The One Constant-Paradoxically, The One Constant That Always Changes-Is Traffic. The Men Watch From Behind Bulletproof Windshields As Faster-Moving Cars And Trucks Weave Around The Heavily Armored Four-Ton Vehicle. Along Le Port De 1’Arsenal, Boat Traffic Is Also Constant, Mostly Motorboats From Fourteen To Forty Feet In Length.

They Come Here From The River So That Crews Can Dine, Rest, Take On Fuel, Or Undergo Repairs At The Docks. The Men In The Armored Truck Did Not Notice Anything Unusual On This Sunlit Morning Except For The Heat, Which Was Even Worse Than It Had Been The Day Before. And It Wasn’t Even Eight A.M.

Yet. Though Their Dark Gray Caps Were Hot And Snug, The Men Wore Them To Keep The Sweat From Dripping Into Their Eyes. The Driver Wore An Mr F1 Revolver; The Guard In The Passenger’s Seat And The Man In The Back Both Carried Fama Assault Rifles.

Traffic Was Heavy At This Hour, As Trucks Made Deliveries And Small Cars Maneuvered To Get Around Them.

None Of The Men In The Armored Car Thought Anything Was Out Of The Ordinary When A Truck In Front Of Them Slowed To Let A Citroen Pass. The Truck Was An Old Rig With Battered, Dirty-White Metal Siding And A Green Canvas Curtain In The Back. The Driver’s Eyes Drifted To The Left, Toward The Canal. “I Tell You,” He Said. “I Would Like To Be Out There Today On My Little Whaler. The Sun, The Rocking Of The Waves, The Quiet.” The Other Man’s Eyes Snapped Over As Thecom Masts And Trees Rushed By. “I’d Be Bored.” “That’s Because You Like To Hunt. Me? I’d Be Content To Sit In The Breeze With My Cassette Player And Fishing-Was The Driver Swallowed The Rest Of The Sentence And Frowned. Neither The Caps Not The Weapons Nor The Open Radio Nor The Familiarity Of The Route Mattered When The Old Truck In Front Stopped Suddenly, And The Curtain In Back Was Pulled Aside.

A Man Stood In The Back. Another Man Walked Around From The Passenger’s Side. Both Wore Camouflage Uniforms, Bulletproof Vests, Gas Masks, Equipment Belts, And Thick Rubber Gloves. Each Man Held A Shoulder-Mounted Rocket-Propelled Grenade Launcher. The Man In The Truck Leaned To The Passenger’s Side Slightly, Angling Himself So That The Back Of The Rpg Was Facing Away From The Cab Of Their Truck. The Other Man Stood On The Street, The Rpg Angled Upward Slightly.

The Guard In The Truck Reacted Immediately.

“Emergency!” He Said Into The Open Microphone.

“Two Masked Men In Truck, License 101763, Have Stopped In Front Of Us. They Are Armed With Rocket Launchers.” A Heartbeat Later, The Men Fired.

There Was A Faint Whoosh As Twin Spikes Of Yellow Orange Flame Shot From The Rear Of The Grenade Launchers. At The Same Time, A Smooth, Steel Jacketed, Pear-Shaped Projectile Rocketed From The Barrel Of Each Tube. The Grenades Hit The Windshield On Either Side And Exploded. The Guard In The Passenger Seat Raised His Gun.

“The Windshield Held!” The Guard Cried Triumphantly. The Driver Looked Into The Right And Left Side Mirrors. Then He Started To Nose To The Right, Into Oncoming Traffic.., “Attempting Evasive Maneuver To The North Lanes-Was He Said.

Suddenly, Both Men Screamed.

High-End Bulletproof Glass, Made Of Plastic Laminate, Is Designed To Withstand Even Close-Proximity Blasts From Hand Grenades. It May Shatter In A Single-Hole Or Web Pattern, But It’ll Hold Without Fragmentation For One Or Possibly Two Assaults. After That, There Are No Guarantees.

Whoever Is Behind The Glass-The Driver Of An Armored Car Or Limousine, The Employee At A Bank, Prison, Parking Or Transit Booth, Or Federal Office Building-Is Supposed To Call For Backup And Evacuate The Target Area If Possible. In The Case Of An Armored Car, Even If The Occupants Can’t Drive Off, The Driver And Passenger Are Both Armed. In Theory, Once The Glass Is Breached, The Attackers Are Equally At Risk. But The Grenades That Had Been Fired From The Truck Were Two- Chambered.

The Front Chamber Contained An Explosive.

The Larger Back Chamber, Which Was Shattered In The Blast, Contained Disulphuric Acid.

The Windshield Had Broken The Same Way In Two Spots, A Sunburst Pattern Caused By High-Velocity Fragmentation: A Nearly Inch-Wide Crater At The Center With Filament-Thin Cracks Radiating From It. Some Of The Acid Had Been Blown Through The Hole, Splattering The Driver And Passenger In The Face And Lap. The Rest Of The Acid Ate Through The Cracks By Dissolving The Non-Chemically Inert Polymers That Were A Component Of The Glass.

Etienne Vandal And Reynold Downer Slung The Grenade Launchers Over Their Shoulders. Downer Jumped From The Back As The Armored Car Slammed Into The Right Rear Corner Of The Truck. The Truck Skidded To The Right, The Armored Car To The Left, And Both Came To A Stop. Vandal And Downer Jumped Onto The Hood Of The Armored Car. All They Had To Do Was Kick The Windshield To Knock It In. It Came Apart Just As Vandal Had Said It Would. The Glass Was Thicker And Heavier Than Downer Had Expected, And The Acid Residue Caused The Rubber Heel Of His Boot To Smoke. But He Only Had A Moment To Think About That.

The Australian Pulled An Automatic From A Holster He Wore On His Right Hip. He Was Standing On The Passenger’s Side. As Cars In The Other Lanes Slowed And Watched And Then Sped Away, Downer Fired A Single Shot Into The Forehead Of The Guard. Vandal Did The Same On The Other Side.

The Lone Guard In The Sealed Cargo Compartment Called The Dispatcher From His Own Secure Radio In The Back.

Vandal Had Known He Would Do That Because, After Leaving The Military With An Impeccable Record, The Lieutenant Had Easily Landed Work As A Security Guard For The Banque De Commerce Armored Cars. He Had Served On An Armored Vehicle Just Like This One For Nearly Seven Months. Vandal Also Knew That At This Point In The Journey, With Traffic As Heavy As It Was, It Would Take The Police Emergency Response Team At Least Ten Minutes To Get There, And That Was More Than Enough Time To Finish The Job.

From Studying The Videotapes, The Men Had Ascertained That The Armor Used In The Cars Hadn’t Changed In The Months Since Vandal Had Left His Post. In The Military, Upgrades Of Vehicles Were Ongoing In Order To Keep Up With New Ammunition Ranging From Armor-Piercing Plasma Jets To More Powerful Land Mines, As Well As Strategic Needs Such As Lighter Weight For Greater Speed And Mobility.

However, The Private Sector Was Slower To Make Changes.

Careful To Avoid The Acid That Was Still Burning Through The Dashboard, Reynold Downer Slid Into The Cab.

Between The Seats, On The Floor, Was A Deep, Narrow Well That Was Used To Store Extra Ammunition. It Was Accessible From Both The Front And Back Of The Armored Car, Downer Pushed The Dead Guard Against The Cab Door And Opened The Panel That Accessed The Ammunition Chamber. Then He Reached Down To His Belt And Removed A Small Chunk Of C-4 From One Of The Pouches. He Snaked His Right Hand Into The Well, Fixed The C-4 To The Panel That Opened Into The Rear Of The Van, And Plugged In A Small Timer. He Set It For Fifteen Seconds, Then Dropped A Tear Gas Canister Behind It And Shut The Door. Climbing Over The Dead Guard, He Opened The Door And Stepped Onto The Roadway. While Downer Was Doing That, Vandal Knelt On The Hood. He Took A Pair Of Tin Shears From His Equipment Belt And Pulled Back The Driver’s Right-Hand Sleeve. The Key That Unlocked The Back Of The Van Was On A Metal Band Attached To The Driver’s Wrist. Vandal Pulled The Man’s Forearm Toward Him And Snipped Through The Band. As He Did, The C-4 Exploded. It Not Only Ripped A Hole In The Rear Panel, It Destroyed The Container Of Tear Gas. Though Some Of The Gas Leaked Into The Cab, The Bulk Of It Poured Into The Back.

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Categories: Clancy, Tom