Sniper




He is shaking.

He is listening to the words of his leader, but only half-listening as the rest of his mind is too frozen to think. He is holding the rifle, but it seems too heavy for him. If he held it for a year, it could not seem heavier.

He is looking down at the parade, so scripted, so precise. The float and the dancers behind it seem like a juggernaut, and to throw oneself in its path seems like a felo-de-se. He wonders how he is supposed to stop the avalanche and dictate history with one minute movement in a single finger. He doesn't feel that powerful. He doesn't feel like god.

His leader urges him on, oblivious to the weight he carries, oblivious to the woman behind the savage mask of the Sorceress, mind on the mission orders and not on anything else. He hears him say that it's not important. Just a signal. His aim is right on.

He hears him ask. Once more, patiently. Just to pull the trigger, to tell them what to do. Dictate history. They would make it happen. Just a signal.

He sights the Sorceress, who has not realized what he is about to do. He pulls the trigger, and feels the bullet shatter his heart just as it pierces hers.

He sees her fall.

He sees her knight turn and scour the rooftops in surprise. He ducks so as not to be seen, and a moment later he peeks over the rail once more. He watches as the spectators watch. They have seen the signal. They make their move.

He watches as chaos grips the street, violence catching and spreading like a fire leaping from one person to the next, consuming everything and raging around the tunnel in which one sorceress and one bullet paired themselves so dramatically against the backdrop of the parade. They are swarming through the gates not tight enough to keep a man out, and in the midst of it a knight is fighting them off, fighting as he is surrounded by the waves who want to tear him apart. The city is up in arms--gunblade in hand, he slowly disappears inside the seething multitude.

The sniper has hidden the rifle, taking care that no fingerprints remain on the killing metal. For a moment, he watches the panic one bullet has caused.

He is safe, tucked up here where the Iguions were and where no one else is likely to come. Relocating carefully room to room until the noise outside dies down a bit, sure that the other team is safe down in the city sewers where they probably fled from the gatehouse--fleeing like ghosts, silent and dramatic with his thin fingers poised on the trigger-thin threshold between life and death, unseen, unknown--he wonders. The mission has gone perfectly as planned. So why does everything feel so wrong?