Author : Jae Miles, Staff Writer

It’s another tediously quiet evening in Watchpost 113 at the western edge of the Sonoran Borderlands. Fred is making waffles while Adey idly flicks through the long-distance views. Fred glances round as Adey jerks upright in his chair, paging back to the previous view.

“What is that?” Adey points at the screen.

Fred sighs, moves the waffle pan to the cool plate and steps across to peer over Adey’s shoulder.

“Extreme buggy race. Looks like they’re really goin’ for it.”

Adey shakes his head: “Seen that before. This is one rooster-tail, straight for three miles, headed for Bessamy Ridge.”

“The Ridge just been finished. Thirty-foot high ‘impregnamesh’ topped with sprung razor wire, set on damn great H-beams backed by buttresses that are bedded fifteen feet back from the line. Whatever that is, it’ll turn off. But I still say it’s some desert dragster.”

Fred goes back to the waffles. Adey watches the rooster-tail of dust approach. As it gets nearer, he can see just how big it is.

“Freddy, don’t think this is a dragster.”

With a loud sigh, Fred puts the pan back onto the cool plate and rejoins Adey.

Squinting at the screen, his eyes widen.

“Damn me, that tail’s gotta be over a hunnerd feet high! Ade, git some infrared on this.”

The screen switches to show an ambient temperature nightscape, except for the blazing heat at the front of the approaching dust storm. Fred puzzles over the heated upper section of the dust cloud before noticing that the rooster-tail is hiding several hot objects.

“Ade, get Phoenix on the line. This ain’t no dragster.”

Adey presses the button. The screech and hiss of active jamming fills the room.

“Freddy?”

“Run!”

Adey beats Fred to the door. He grabs the handle and the booby trap delivers a jolt that lifts him from his feet and stops his heart. He drops with a grunt. Fred screams and dives under the nearest table.

The intruder removes his trap. As he exits the building, there’s a distant rumble of impact. With a smile that flashes white teeth against the camouflage paste covering his face, he sprints to his trials bike and is gone into the desert, his countermeasures drone wheeling above.

At the heart of that rumble, a 60-ton monster hybrid of snowplough and armoured loco hit the border wall at eighty miles-an-hour. The prow drove through, its flared trailing edges flinging the debris away and widening the gap.

Behind the colossal ram comes a pack of vehicles that trace their ancestry back to moonshine runners. They spray grit and flame as tuned power plants accelerate four- and six-wheel-drives. As they clear the dust cloud, countermeasures drones rise above each vehicle. Each pair heads for a destination known only to the driver. Rotors whine, countermeasures hum, off-road suspensions flex, and absorptive paint reflects nothing as they disappear into the night.

In a cloud of smoke and steam, the ram turns and rockets back across the border, off to disappear into its underground shed before the inevitable rabid response occurs.

Along the great wall, this scene is repeated over a dozen times. By dawn, enforcement efforts at many of the breaches are being hindered by the hundreds of people streaming through the gaps – going in both directions.