Harris winced. A cramp shot up his leg and he shifted his position to get more comfortable in his tree top perch. He brought the binoculars to his eyes and surveyed the front of the house. The two-story Georgian structure was richly covered in blooming ivy and nestled in the middle of its 100- acre estate. From his vantage point, Harris could see the large wooden entrance doors set behind sun bleached sandstone pillars.

Those doors, he knew, led to the main hall and the large stairway that spiralled upward to the 10 bedrooms above. The dining room, lounge and servants’ quarters covered the lower floor. The grounds, once well kept, had grown wild and untidy. Plants, which had once provided colourful splashes, now spilled over the beds and added to the tangle of the overgrown grass.

"Blue Leader, initiate in 5 minutes." Harris spoke softly. His headset broadcasted the message clearly to his colleagues around the grounds.

Harris suppressed the nervousness in the pit of his stomach. He transferred the machine gun that hung from a strap on his back to his knees. As the seconds crawled by, he picked out his targets: three single patrols between his position and the house, and the two guards at the doors. He ignored the others, confident his team members would take care of them. He checked his watch, eager to begin the assault, and then slipped down from the tree.

The last seconds ticked by and Harris reached for a grenade on his utility belt.

". . .Two, One."

Harris counted down the last seconds and pulled the pin on the grenade. He reached back and threw the grenade towards the nearest of his targeted patrols. The guards barely had time to register the dull thud of the grenade landing behind them before it exploded and their bodies were thrown into the air to land in crumpled heaps some feet away. Harris launched himself from cover and sprinted towards the house, firing as he ran.

His hail of bullets tore into the second patrol before they could fully react and their bodies jerked spasmodically with each hit. Explosions and gunfire could be heard all around him as the rest of his team joined the action. Harris leapt to the ground, narrowly avoiding a hail of bullets that pierced the air where he had stood only seconds before. He rolled and brought the machine gun up and emptied the rest of the magazine into the last of his targeted patrols.

Harris knelt to change the magazine and looked around. To the east he could see Johnson and his team running in relays of two as they covered each other on the approach to the house. Kelly and his team had taken the main gate and were removing the bodies of the guards and opening the gates to let Jenkins and the rest of the trucks into the estate.

Harris glanced at his watch, then sprinted to the left side of the house. 3:05. "Not bad," he thought, "ahead of schedule."

Harris plucked a second grenade from his belt, threw it at the main doors, and dove for cover. The explosion ripped the main doors from their hinges and sent a deadly hail of splinters into the face of the guard who had fired at him.

"How goes it?" a voice asked from behind a tree to his left.

Harris' heart lurched in his chest. “Shit!â€