The dark of night was still lurking, though it would not be for long. The dim indigo vista was slowly seeping into a maroon dawn. It was still dark. Despite it being too early, the sun tried its best to mount the horizon. Its effort to brighten the landscape was negated, for now, by the mountains that were slightly taller than where it made its appearance in the sky. Whatever beams of light would have made it into the valley were stopped yet by the mellow dark clouds above.

Also from the clouds came a relatively light shower of snow, light yet still heavy enough to immerse the events below in an opaque white fog. The flood lights near a large tarmac rectangle blinked off at the same time as a dull scrape of wheels, which nobody heard through the concrete walls nearby. The lights buzzed and flickered back on, illuminating the snow dropping from the sky, and nothing else.

The shape of the small plane was barely tangible against the also dark wall. Its shadow was perfectly placed inside that of the wall next to it by the light above. A long, motionless silence followed. No movement. No sound. No screaming alarms broke the peace, and a wide door at the belly of the aircraft softly and slowly gaped to the ground. Three men armed with silenced handguns quietly stepped out.

The nameless intruders were silent and invisible, true artisans at their profession, to be unnoticed. Part of a notorious mercenary group, they always got their jobs done quickly and effectively. Now, they were on call to steal some experimental conventional missiles from the secret military base they are outside of now.

Their figures were silhouetted against the lit fog coming in from the east. The winds that were pushing the fog also lifted powdered snow from the ground, adding to the effect of low visibility the fog induced, shrouding the place's unwelcome guests. While the snow and fog swirled around the men, the wind also created a howling turbulence of noise. The sharp crack of their heavy boots penetrating the brittle layer of ice was muffled, and thus not audible past another forty some yards. The first one slowed until his elbow was just before the brink of a corner in the wall, where stationed several guards at a transport gate, and stopped. The others followed suit, lining up one by one behind their supposed leader.

The one at the front of the pack straightened his Kevlar vest and lowered his fiberglass visor. He opened his eyes, no longer in the harsh wake of the whipping cold and ice. From not more than a handful of feet away, one could see that some small lights at the top of the visor turned on. From his point of view, and his only, as opposed to the grayish azure of the foggy valley he could see a brilliant spectrum of streaks of color, from cyan to blue to green to red to white. He gestured a fraction of an inch to the top left of his eyepiece and the colors faded to reveal only a few red shapes against a greenish blue haze, which then faded to transparency. This was a thermal camera's display, representing the humans in the area, for tactical purposes. The visor also used its cameras to sense the light conditions, equalizing the brightness and contrast of the display so that the journey through black shadowed valley could have passed for a fine evening stroll past a densely wooded park. He now could see, albeit artificially, in the invisible fog and twilight. The other two did the same in succession.

They made sure that their side arms were holstered and ready to fire at a moment's notice, then waited for a signal from the one at the front of the pack. A long while passed as he thought of the most discreet time to strike. For what seemed like the good part of half an hour, although it couldn't have been given the fact that the sky was still a deep shade of indigo, everything save for nature's fury was entirely silent and still.

The leader of the pack pointed to the one behind him, and then swiftly swung his hand out towards a clearing in the gate, next to the building, where there happened to be an abnormally large truck loading bay. He obeyed the silent command and threw his body through the opening in the gate, almost in between the guards on the other side, and quietly landed next to the platform. Rolling on his knees and up to a half- kneeling position, he found himself in a small corner, on the slope of the loading door, behind and below the concrete stair platform leading to the also concrete dock. It was the only area not sharing some of the soft, peachy orange light from an incandescent lamp above the door. His jump had been placed and timed to perfection.

He moved his hand towards his holster, in case he had been noticed, but everybody was looking the other way. He already knew that, though, as he could see the guards, and thus which way they were facing, through the thick perimeter fence, with the aid of his visor. He relaxed that hand, and motioned to the others still behind the wall as would a traffic officer.

Slowly, silently, steadily, he rose, pivoting on his knees and shins, then launched himself up, under the peeled yellow railing, landing in a corner of shadow on the concrete dock behind the guard watching the area. His black garb rendered him almost entirely invisible to anyone who would care to give a side glance in his direction.

One guard at the perimeter wall slipped inside a small building, because it was at the end of his shift. While the other guard at the wall oversaw this man's proceedings, the intruder at the loading bay took his opportunity. He sprang up, and with a swift, and solid smack to the head of the guard on the platform, ensured that he was the only one still standing in the area. He quietly placed the guard in the shadowed corner in which he had been hiding moments before. Then, removing his black outer layer of clothing, he revealed a uniform that was identical to that of the guard that had been where he stood at that moment, just a minute earlier. The guard at the wall turned around. To him, nothing was different. The silence once again reigned, for the next few minutes. The new-found guard at the platform motioned a thumbs up behind his back, knowing that the intruders at the wall would see him doing so with their own visors. Nothing happened.

The second one behind the leader, Number Three, went around the perimeter of the wall. All of the searchlights were on, but they were rather easy to avoid. He made his way around all the way to the edge of the wall, near the point where the valley transitioned into the base of a mountain. Here, there were more guards. They were moving too much, too fast to count. Peering around the edge just enough to avoid being spotted, he observed the situation more thoroughly, planning his actions according to his surroundings.

The goal was to enter through the second-story window about ten yards past the other side of the wall. The security system, excluding the electrified fence and the searchlights, had been knocked out by a grid failure arranged by a friend of the intruders. If the information obtained from the rogue guard several weeks ago was to be trusted, the emergency generator should provide the security camera circuit with power within the next handful of minutes. After entering the window, he was to infiltrate the main server room in the basement, and the delicate data he obtained in there would be taken via the external hard drive tucked in his vest's pocket.

The missile heist down at the loading platform was simply a cover operation.

Taking a quick, deep breath, he threw his rope up to the top of the wall, and the metal hook latched to the other side, sailing right under the fence. Perfect shot. Archaic security measures call for archaic break-in methods, he thought smugly to himself. The traction soles of his boots assisted his ascent. Off over the other side of the top of the wall resided a large and, although severely understaffed, crucial military base.

Nearing the fence, he remembered a warning from the security informant. Not only is the fence electrified, but it also is wired to the remaining circuit of the security system, and a tug of more than about one centimeter could set sirens blaring and dozens of guards rushing to the base of each side of the wall. The only ways to safely scale it would be to either fit between the wires, which would be agreeably impossible, or to go clean over them. Going clean over them, however, would ensure being spotted by a lookout. The designers of the security system had counted on this, and thus far no soul had broken in and then made it out alive.

However, the man then awkwardly perched on the wall, waiting for a spotlight to pass, had come prepared. Inching his head over the wall, he measured the gap with the small ruler stitched on his right glove's index finger. Lining up the zero mark with the top of the wall, he learned that there was about seven good inches of space between each wire. Holding his breath empty and aligning himself flat on his front side, he was about thirteen inches high. Unfazed, he grabbed a rather long extension cable from his pack, each end sporting a small, sharp metal clasp. He positioned each clasp but four millimeters from the wire, and with a brief prayer, let them close.

A small snap was heard for only five yards. The current was now still moving through the wire, only through his extension cable instead. Heaving a hefty sigh of relief, he put his head through the new gap.

Inch by agonizing inch, he slipped between the wires. With the display on his cable, he could see how much the other wires had been displaced, as it was connected to the system as well now. It only was being moved by the wind. He was easily one third of the way through when he saw a searchlight tilting towards him.

It is incredibly hard to hold one's breath when there is mortal danger afoot. There was a small unwatched corner directly below him, but he had seldom hope for making it in time. He had been holding his breath for at least a solid minute by that point, and he needed to take a gasp. He couldn't stand it any longer. He struggled not to fill his lungs, his torso still on the wall, the circle of incriminating luminance just seconds to the left.

His instinctual lust for survival contradicted itself by forcing his diaphragm to summon precious air to the lungs. The gauge showed about nine and a half millimeters, with less than a hair of space until death. Only two seconds, if not less, until was is in full view of the spotlight. Wriggling through the last several inches past his torso, he gasped for air, slipped his legs through, and fell just under the cone of light all with less than a second to spare. He landed on his chest, and was safe for at least that next minute, a coveted privilege in his profession.

The final co-conspirator, still at the gate, waited for his cue to ditch the plane and take over the guard station. The corner of his visor showed a small circle that represents the signal sent by the guys already in their positions. He slipped around behind the watchman and entered the small security base.

He quickly dispatched of the residents and placed the concussed guards in a corner. Sneaking around the corner and past the spotlights, he tackled the final guard on this side of the building, and both came crashing to the ground, a spray of snow being lifted in their wake.

The guard was alarmed but he wasn't totally incompetent. Within seconds, he twisted under the weight of the attacker and attempted to overthrow him.

A punch landed on a jaw, which was promptly returned. The lights drew closer, adding the the gravity of the situation.

Intruder Number One was knocked to his side, sliding down the patch of powdered snow and hitting the wall. The guard took an upward stance and motioned for his piteously concealed holster. At the same time, he motioned for his radio transceiver in his shirt pocket. Regrettably, this one could not be allowed to live.

Taking his opportunity, the intruder placed his fist in a snow-cleared area to his left. Using this as a fulcrum for his weight, he swung his legs in a counter-clockwise stroke, ending right below the knees of the guard, now with his gun pointed out straight at the attacker's face. The guard swayed, and reluctantly let the kick fell him. He hit the ground with an unpleasant thump. Number One, still spinning from his kick, launched himself up and towards the unfortunate guard. Hands extended, one fell on the transceiver and the other on the wrist of the gun hand. With the force of the impact, the two slid toward the other wall close by across the snow, clear out of the way of the lights. Sliding, the guard fires three shots, failing to graze the shoulder of his aggressor. Number One ripped and threw the transceiver several feet to the right from the wall, and with his other hand, grabbed his own handgun. The former guard was buried in the snow minutes later.

Even after undesirable and disconcerting casualties and danger, the operation was underway. In minutes, the truck, with the missiles, Number Two and Three, and most importantly, the elusive governmental data, will be rolling out of the platform. He will toss the driver out, Number One will give them "permission" to pass, sneaking in himself, and they'll drive out, and after they pass the highway, they'll be home free. All they had to do then was wait. All sounds ceased as Number Three gave the signal that he was leaving the server room, and would be on the truck within the minute.