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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
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They were here. Driving down the main drag of yet another nondescript urban centre. A limo, several motorcycles, several armoured 4 wheel drives and a handful of snipers, occupying every potential ambush point along the route. I'd counted five so far, they'd counted none of me. Two helicopters circling the air along the route could prove a problem, but even they limited themselves to what they expected. Follow a thirty degree angle dead ahead, pass over the building at the end of the drag and you find yourself at my location. Watching them all.


Penthouse apartment of one of the largest high-rises in this city. Not normally my scene, but it has its perks, I though as I munched into a rare/exotic fruit I'd never heard of before in my life. Tasted like the kind of thing no common man would be caught dead with in his fruit basket, but these wealthy, penthouse types were a different breed. The former occupant had, when presented with a perfect opportunity to ambush and overpower me, fallen to his knees and begged me to take his money, just leave him alone. I felt compelled to put the weakling out of his misery. Now he was propped up against the door, his dead eyes playing witness to the events about to play out.


The glass rails had been carefully removed to make room for me. Me and my rifle. Nobody would think to find this kind of technology in the hands of a lone gunman, so no security force ever thought outside a few kilometers from their charge. Their thoughts ended at that small apartment block. Mine were focused on that. It blocked a good portion of the main drag from my sight. It didn't worry me, too much. But I was always mindful of the unexpected. When firing a projectile that travels around a kilometer a second over a distance of ten kilometers, there's plenty of time for the unexpected to ruin things. Nobody else would have tried this, though. So none of the guards down there would be looking for it.


I couldn't remember who this politician was. I'm sure it was a politician, though. Nobody else fears that much for their own pathetic lives than those with power. I could almost make out his face through the polarised windshield. All I'd have to do is put ten seconds of lead on, then millions of dollars in security and preparation would be for naught. Not yet, though.


A quick scan through the crowd found me two of my targets. Standing right where I thought they would. They had no idea what was about to come. Couldn't possibly. The third was out of sight, but that didn't worry me. He'd be here, sooner or later.


None of them knew or would ever know why. The media would put forth several theories about a botched assassination attempt from a position too far away to be accurate, then mention the efficient police response that ended that lone gunman's life before he could do further harm to the people of this fine city. Some sappy front-page article that sells lots of paper.


I'd planned something a little more sensational.


I turned to my lifeless companion. His accusing stare did bother me, a little. Death never usually resided so close to me, but occasionally in my line of work, it was a necessary hazard. One just went on. And he wouldn't be eying me down forever. The final present I'd left him would see to that. A parting gift, perhaps, something to say, "I'm sorry that I had to kill you, but at least I made you famous."


It was almost time. I sighted up one of the targets, then quickly flicked to the other. Timing was everything. I had ten seconds to fire, recover, resight, then fire again. Nobody would notice the first in time to warn the second. But if I erred slightly, it would be all for naught. I controlled my breathing and focused.


Breathe... breathe... breathe in... FIRE!


The recoil was less than I'd expected for such a primitive weapon. Breathe... I pulled the rifle into my shoulder, settling into position again. Breathe... Lined up the next target. Breathe... Breathe... Breathe in... FIRE!


Seven seconds. Fast enough?


I sighted the first target just in time to see the bullet pass through his skull. It kept going after that, but at a downward trajectory, the few it hit should recover. But they were of no consequence. By the time I'd spotted the second, the acoustic sensors built into the scope were picking up the first sign of disturbance down there. The second target was moving, turning towards the scene of the disturbance. Enough?


I waited, breath frozen in my lungs.


The back of his skull erupted in blood, bone and brain. That was all I wanted. Now for the third target.


My radio was picking up the first few reports of a sniper. They knew I was around, they just didn't know where. Time to give them a few hints.


I let off a few shots in rapid succession towards the motorcade. The site of settling glass from windshields was all I needed. That would be enough to give them direction. The snipers would check the smaller building, the choppers would be coming for me.


All I had to do now was wait.


Cigarettes were one of those old fashioned habits that all gunmen needed. Every time I inhaled tobacco smoke, I wondered the same thing. Was I doing this for anything more than the whole outlaw hitman image? I knew they killed you, knew they caused cancer, even used them for that purpose on occasion. But never really knew why I smoked. I knew it wasn't addiction, I could easily quit at any time. But I always had a carton with me, wherever I went.


Maybe it was due to prohibition from where I came from. When I came from.


The first chopper had found me. They were hovering over the little sniper nest I'd built on the patio. Shouting the clichéd, "Surrender, on the floor, hands up, give up" spiel that police everywhere seem to use in this situation. Ignoring them, I strode back into the apartment. A few bullets whizzed past me. I was almost annoyed when I saw one hit my dead companion, but it didn't bother me. It was almost over.


Ropes had descended from the chopper and SWAT members were already rappelling down. They'd prepared for this. Four members per chopper, just in case they needed rapid deployment. Whoever that politician was, he must have been important. As soon as their boots hit concrete, it was over. One of those four was my final target. I couldn't see which, those full-faced visors put paid to that. Almost disappointing to come this far, but not look into the eyes of my final victim. They were running towards me, now. Not firing, as I already had my hands on my head. Almost there. They never quite made it.


The gift I'd left my deceased comrade, my final gift to these four lawmen, erupted in beautiful crimson flame. Not even their layers of ballistic protection would save them from that. The apartment was consumed. The walls went from pearl to black in an instant. Fixtures and appliances melted into slag. Furniture was turned into twisted, charred wood in seconds. I watched on as the last of the four succumbed to the heat of the flames.


Then I phased out.






A foiled assassination attempt ended with a spectacular explosion, today, as Presidental Candidate...


... five bodies were recovered from the burning wreckage of the penthouse apartment of Gregory Montgomery, the billionaire media tycoon. Five bodies were recovered, including four police officers and that of Gregory himself, who is thought to be the assassin. Initial reports suggest that Mr Montgomery went down in a firefight with the four officers, before detonating a large explosive device.


Exact motives for the attempt are unsure, as Montgomery Media is a major contributer...


I tossed the newspaper away, stubbed out my last cigarette and checked my watch. A few hours left here, before I returned home. To my time. Time enough to stock up on tobacco.

Edited by Aardvark

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OMG - an Aardvark!!! *squee*



How'd you know I'd been wishing for an Aardvark epistle? =)


Engaging as always, and leaves me wishing for more.

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Wow Aard....great taste....SciFi Mystery, great leadup and finale....nice taste for stuff to come....all together, great grabber. Congrats on a fabulous teaser story....makes one BEG for more!

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A great short story, Aardvark. I liked it a lot, though I though the sci-fi element of the assassin phasing out was unexpected, given the few hints that were in place before that, though the comment about the rifle being a 'primative weapon' was a decent clue.


Either way, I liked reading this a lot. :)

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