Entry 32 – Guards
The landing and the infiltration went remarkably smoothly. Of course we had no idea what we'd find there. If we did, we'd have prepared better, but there was no way of knowing. Espinoza looked sort of cute in her "typical tourist" outfit assembled from casual clothes borrowed from several crew members. I, on the other hand, still looked like a military man on vacation and the only person who really blended is was Miss Li with her dress and a laptop case. We carried only very light weapons in our backpack, including two disassembled sniper rifles that were a key to our plan.
Breaking into and entering the Vatican side building was also fairly easy as it turned out. Espinoza remarked this was clearly because nobody was stupid enough to mess with the Swiss Guard and I had to admit that there was some truth to her opinion. Once below the roof, I and Espinoza took upon ourselves to take care of the security in front of the building using our newly assembled guns. As I chambered the first round, I truly hoped the plan would work because if it didn't, we'd all be dead in under a minute as the guards we were targeting were both armor-clad.
Here's the thing about power armor and why nobody really uses it aside from the Swiss Guard. It consists of an electric-powered servo-driven exoskeleton and a lot of metal and ceramic plating attached to it. It is extremely durable – they say it can withstand a burst from a heavy machinegun, something no other armor can do. It'll knock the wearer out cold, of course, but it won't kill him. To small arms, including standard assault and sniper rifles, it's nearly completely impervious.
Next, despite looking really clumsy and bulky, it makes the wearer actually faster and, more importantly, stronger. A soldier wearing the armor can spring like an elite athlete and rip a human being apart with bare hands – and quite easily. I've seen videos of individuals wearing such an armor stopping a car in its tracks and ripping its engine right out of the bay. Mind you, an average engine weighs around 200 pounds.
And finally, the armor carries an automated sensor suite that makes sneaking around it almost impossible. The operator can literally see through walls using a thermal imager and if we got caught anywhere nearby, he'd be upon us in seconds.
But there's a reason nobody in the world uses this technology. Aside from its extreme price, it has a serious drawback. When idle or on guard duty (perfect for the Swiss Guard), the armor can stay hooked up to the power grid but as soon as it disconnects, it only takes minutes for the batteries to run dry. Despite our best efforts to develop new battery technologies, we (as mankind) have run into a wall imposed by physics limitations in the early 2000s. If two esteemed 18th century Italian scientists Alessandro Volta and Luigi Galvani jumped in time to the present, it would probably take them mere minutes to figure the modern batteries out – all that changed since their time is the electrolyte and the electrode material.
A weapon that can run only for such a short time is extremely impractical save for one specific environment – a small urban area it can cover within that allotted time and where it cannot encounter anything heavier than small arms. Taking such a suit out at long ranges with an ATGM would probably be quite easy but you really don't want to run into one in a narrow corridor.
All this and more ran through my head as I lined up my sights with the only guaranteed kill weakspot the armor had – the visor. Besides me, Espinoza did the same. The suppressors on our rifles would mute the sound enough not to alert half of the city block to our presence but we had to be absolutely precise and fire at the same moment, otherwise we'd have a fight with one or even two very angry walking tanks on our hands. I like my limbs attached and where they are, thank you very much.
"Three... two... one..." Espinoza counted down.
I pulled the trigger.