In my Book, No Need to Know, I have a “little device” (actually, several little devices) that is used in a purely defensive role. To protect a CIA safe house high on a mountain in the Appalachians. The safe house is called “Spindletop” and the “little device is called HOUNDS, for “High-Output User-autoNomous Defensive System.” It’s a last ditch system; for those that may have been in the military, it provides what is called “final protective fires.” I envisioned it to look something like this: HOUNDSSHARP CLAW 1 UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) CHINESE (2)

From No Need to Know:
On the telephone, “Becca,” provided a continuous dialog of what she witnessed on the monitors. “Anna, we have ten men, wearing night vision goggles and carrying AK-47s. Looks like two are beginning to cut through the first bundle of concertina wire…outside the wire.” Anna Comstock listened intently from her office at CIA HQ.

“You sure?” asked an incredulous Comstock. I should have never left! Damn!

“There is no doubt what they are doing Anna—they have those large handle…wire cutter things.”

“Bolt cutters.”

“Right, two men have bolt cutters and they are snipping away at the concertina and have just started to pull away the rolls from the fence. They’ll start cutting the chain link fence any moment.”

“Becca, I’m on my way back to the house and the security men are on their way; ETA 12 minutes.” Anna Comstock’s massive chest heaved as adrenaline was dumped into her system by the gallon. She hadn’t ever lost a special interest person or a CIA executive. There had never been an attack on a CIA safe house and now there was a sizable hostile force working its way up the mountain; the prize in the Bunker must be an incredible threat to someone. Anna Comstock would never have believed what she was about to do.

As Anna Comstock played mental gymnastics with the lives of her security detail and her career, the woman called “Becca” said, “Anna, we are all in body armor; we’re locked and loaded, the SCIF is locked and we’re ready for them until the cavalry arrives.” One by one, the four security women extracted their service weapons and racked the slides of the .38 Berettas to chamber a round. Once locked and loaded, one by one the weapons were safetied and returned to their holsters on their hips . One security officer snatched a pair of ten gauge shotguns from the weapons vault and placed them against the workstations. Only Nazy didn’t have a weapon on her person but there were several M-4s in weapons safe locker just three steps away.

The security chief racked her brain why the attack on the safe house was happening. Only a handful of people know of Spindletop! Only a handful of people know Cunningham is here! How is this possible? Her next thought was more pessimistic. I need to up-channel the news to Director Lynche.

Two women sat transfixed in front of the bank of monitors. Nazy recovered her composure and wiped her eyes; she stood and walked over to stand between the two women controlling the security cameras. She placed a comforting hand on each woman’s shoulder and dispassionately monitored the activities of the security force protecting her. Her mind wandered elsewhere, to another place and time, when she struggled to put the nightmares behind her. She was just starting to dream…of Duncan and her…in beautiful places. She didn’t want to go back to the bad places, of horrific dreams; she would rather die first. And if she were going to die, she wanted to die in Duncan’s arms; not in the grips of savages. She stared unblinkingly at the monitor as Muslim men were coming for her, yet again.

Nazy was shocked back to the present to hear the young woman called Becca shout, “Anna, they’ve cut the links out of the chain link fence. Anna; they’re inside the wire.”
Anna Comstock checked her watch and realized the quick reaction force coming up from the tiny inn at Columbia Furnace wasn’t going to respond quickly enough; they would not make it in time. She prayed she was making the right decision when she said, “Becca, I need you to release the Hounds. Release the Hounds dammit!”

The two women sitting were close enough to hear Anna Comstock’s voice come though the telephone receiver. They shared a quick glance and acknowledged the order. The woman seated to Nazy’s left said, “I’ve got it.” Nazy’s eyes grew wide.

Alice Prince shook the mouse to find the cursor and placed it on the HOUNDS icon near the bottom of the monitor and clicked the left button once and activated the system. A windows box opened and six stroboscopic lines appeared, from low intensity to high. She scrolled the mouse to select the targets, as each man stepped through the hole in the fence and those already inside “the wire.” With a double click of the mouse, ten pulsating red circles, each the size of nickels, tracked each man as he moved through the fence and the path through the concertina wire. Green lights flashed in the windows box in the middle of the control monitor, indicating six tracked robots had been activated and were powered up. Another small windows screen appeared with two buttons: RELEASE and RETURN. Security Officer Prince exhaled as she panned the cursor over and clicked the RELEASE button. One after another, the six flashing green lights turned solid; video shots from each HOUND appeared on the control monitor. One after another, the lawnmower-sized machines shot away from their charging stations from the side of the barn and turned hard right, and zipped down the hill. The computer system continuously fed targeting data into each HOUND as the wide rubber-tracked, electrically-driven vehicles, split into two echelons of three. The five women watched the screen, as one by one; the armed robots acquired their targets and attacked in enfilade. Nazy turned her head; the four intelligence officers looked on in stunned amazement.

Simultaneously, all six HOUNDS fired; the sound from the robots was a deafening mélange of zip and crack; the sounds from the infiltrators were truncated grunts as thousands of bullets found their marks.

The twelve small barrels of each Gatling gun spun rapidly and spat five hundred rounds in a twenty-second burst. Three thousand rounds of .22 caliber long-rifle intermeshed, from left and right; and saturated the narrow killing field with the small-bore ammunition. Death was nearly instantaneous, by a thousand tiny rounds cutting into the men’s unprotected flesh. Sensors on each HOUND monitored the killing field for movement. After two minutes, intelligence officer Prince moved the cursor on the monitor and selected RETURN. One after the other, each HOUND pivoted 180º and zipped back up the hill, spun 180º and slipped into its docking station, barrels pointing outboard.

No Need to Know Cover bmp

More to follow.